Being a Witness in a Hostile World
Read 1 Peter 2:9-12
“Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentile, so that…they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
How do we be a witness for Christ in a world that no longer wants to hear and seeks to silence our message? We are increasingly being told to leave our faith in our private life, and to talk about Christ on the job is to face possible termination. The world can force its morality upon us, and we dare not disagree. We can talk about what bars we like to attend, the sexual attractions we enjoy, and even our latest forays into sin, but talk about the church you attend or the faith you believe in and morality you believe in. You face censorship and the loss of your career. This leads us to the conundrum regarding how to be an effective witness in a hostile world.
The answer to this perplexing challenge lies in the words of Peter. Peter understands that the world we live in is a world that has rejected God from the beginning of time and continues to deny the gospel. To penetrate past their hostility toward the gospel, we need to focus upon living the gospel before them. As God’s passion, we are to proclaim the excellence of him who calls us. This begins with the lifestyle we live before others. Living the gospel first involves a rejection of the same lusts that the world has embraced (vs. 11). Proverbs warn, “Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked” (25:26). Muddied waters are unfit to give a drink to the thirsty. Second, we are to keep our behavior excellent among the Gentiles. The term perfect refers to a positive moral quality, that which is morally praiseworthy. The implication then is that they are drawn to the Gospel message through their continual observation of our life.
This starts with demonstrating love to those who oppose us. In Luke 6:35, Christ tells us to love our enemies and do good to them. The way we soften the heart of those hostile to the gospel is not by pounding the pulpit but by ministering to their needs. In Romans 12:20, Paul reminds us that “’ If your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” The picture of “heaping burning coals on his head” is not to exact pain and revenge but to cause the person to have shame and remorse, leading to their conversion. The point is not to cause shame but to positively affect our persecutors by our acts of kindness.
This is what provides us insight into how to share our testimony with others. While we cannot share our faith publicly while at work, how we act and treat others, even those who mistreat us, provide us opportunities to then share our faith with co-workers privately. They are drawn to the gospel by our life. Then we can invite them into our hope or a coffee shop where we can be free to share the gospel with them, which is to always be our goal.