World Wide Witnessing

“You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 13: 9-11)

In this prophecy to his disciples, Jesus makes it clear that Christianity (that is, the way of Christ) isn’t only for people like them, it’s for everybody, even for people who are very different, even for people who are very hostile towards them. Witnessing is not about entertainment or marketing, it’s about endurance. It’s not about pre-emptive attack or personal protection, it’s about endurance. It’s not about oratorical sophistication or religious techniques, it’s about Spiritual receptivity. What does this suggest for the way we Christians should conduct ourselves on the world wide web, when we get flogged on blogs and flamed on Facebook? What does this suggest our response should be in the face of web balkanisation and tribal fragmentation?

4 Comments

  1. But did Jesus actually say that?
    Or was it a bit of institutional propaganda created by the (already) institutionalised church fathers to justify and further their worldly power?
    Jesus was essentially a Jew. He was not in any sense a Christian nor did he create the religion about him, namely Christianity. All of which was created by others after his brutal murder – and mostly long after. He certainly could not have created the “death-and-resurrection” idea which became the centre-pole of the Christian belief system. Corpses are incapable of creating and communicating ideas, and thus religions.
    Jesus was an outsider, a radical Spiritual Teacher who appeared and taught on the margins of the tradition of Judaism as it existed in his time and place. He was of course completely unwelcome to the ecclesiastical establishment of his time and place.
    While he was alive Jesus taught and demonstrated a universal, non-Christian, non-sectarian Spirit-Breathing Spiritual way of Life that can be practiced by all heart-sensitive sentient beings in any time and place.

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  2. Thanks, John, it is certainly good to subject claims to critical analysis.
    As a disciple of Christ, myself, I often am challenged to hold “the universal” and the “particular” in spiritually healthy relationship with each other.
    A couple of translations of the following verses from the Gospel of John helped me to put both what you and Matt have said into some kind of perspective
    John 12:23-25
    Amplified Bible (AMP)
    23And Jesus answered them, The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified and exalted.
    24I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains [just one grain; it never becomes more but lives] by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest.
    25Anyone who loves his life loses it, but anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. [Whoever has no love for, no concern for, no regard for his life here on earth, but despises it, preserves his life forever and ever.]
    Amplified Bible (AMP)
    Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987
    John 12:23-25
    The Message (MSG)
    22-23Philip went and told Andrew. Andrew and Philip together told Jesus. Jesus answered, “Time’s up. The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
    24-25″Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.
    The Message (MSG)
    Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002
    Whatever anybody says, I am of the opinion that the authentic Christian life is not an easy one, even for one who lives in the comparative comfort of a wealthy country like Australia where I am privileged to live.
    I am amazed at the ability of persecuted Christians to endure. One only has to read accounts of those who have survived and escaped persecution. I have personally met Brother Yun from the persecuted church in China, whose testimonial book, “The Heavenly Man” is currently in print. I can barely imagine what he has been through. Blog-flogging and FB branding hardly compare to being physically and mentally tortured.
    I’m interested to hear comments from others 🙂

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  3. @Lucy,
    I haven’t read Yun, but have two suggestions for you, from very different perspectives:
    –Milovan Djilas, “Of Prisons and Ideas”: Djilas was a Cold War dissident who writes, sometimes movingly, of the power of ideas in the face of imprisonment and oppression — although not necessarily from a Christian perspective.
    –Victor Frankl, “Man’s Search for Meaning”: Frankl was a renowned psychiatrist and a concentration camp survivor. Much of his writing is a deeply theoretical look at psychiatry and frankly is beyond me; but underlying that is an amazing testament from someone who went through a scarring experience without succumbing to nihilism or hatred.
    I found both of these examples to be worthwhile, albeit in different ways. Good luck on your own journey.

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  4. Thanks, SJR, I have read some stuff about the writings you suggested, but not actually read the sources, but may follow up on them once I get through the mountain of books on my bedside table (which keeps growing due to my husband’s love of books and his love of me motivating him to generously share “the latest”) 😉
    I’m not a “Kindle” user yet… but perhaps I’m just delaying the inevitable?…
    My parents were WW2 sorvivors and came to Australia as refugees in the early 1950’s, so I have close family history of people living on after trauma, displacement, persecution etc.
    It is of interest to me that my mother, particularly, turned to God in desperation for a healthy living child after a couple of war-time abortions and subsequent miscarriages at the time she found out she was pregnant with me… and for whatever divine design reasons, I am here, still alive and as passionate for the good things of God after a lifetime as a dsiciple of Jesus Christ!
    I trust your journey is proving to be fulfilling, also 🙂

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