Is Witnessing Really That Important?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 11, 2014 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

What do you think of when you hear the word “witnessing” in a Christian context? Do you think of the guy on a street corner yelling about how we’re all going to hell unless we turn to Jesus? Or do you think of Jehovah’s Witnesses knocking on your door, asking if you know Jesus?

Many people think of these examples as witnessing, but I would contend that they are really examples of evangelism. These two words, witnessing and evangelism, are often used interchangeably, but I believe there is a difference between the two. Evangelism is from the Greek word “euangelion,” which literally means “good message” or “good news.” Evangelism is the sharing of the good news, which is the gospel of Jesus Christ - that He came to earth as a human to die for us and rise again for our salvation. That’s why the examples I gave above - of a street corner preacher and Jehovah’s Witnesses - are considered evangelism.

So if that’s evangelism, then what is witnessing? Witnessing is living your life. Whether you realize it or not, your life is a witness to something. When people see the way you live, they recognize your witness. What is your witness - if someone looks at your life, what do they see? Do they see a representation of this world and its desires, or a representation of Jesus?

The Greek word for witness is “martur,” which is where we get our word martyr from, often meaning one who died for their faith. The verb form of this word also means to give witness or testimony of one’s faith. While that does sound a lot like evangelism I discussed above, witnessing is more specifically about living your life in such a way that people see Jesus and your faith through it.

Evangelism can happen between any people; they don’t have to know each other for one person to tell another that Jesus died for them. Witnessing, however, takes relationship. You have to get to know a person to be able to see their witness well. You may see a person you don’t know doing something that makes them seem like a Christ follower but when you really get to know them you find out they aren’t, or vice versa. You have to be in a relationship with someone in order to truly share your witness with them.

So now that we’ve defined what witnessing is, is it really that important? A couple weeks ago I wrote about the importance of good character and integrity. In that case, their importance, and your motivation for them, are dependent on what your authority is. Witnessing is the same way - it depends on your authority. If your authority is the world and the things of this world, then witnessing probably isn’t that important. After all, if you’re not following Jesus, what would you be a witness of? On the other hand, if your authority is Jesus Christ and His teachings, then witnessing is incredibly important - your life and your relationships with others will share the love of God and the opportunity for salvation with others!

In fact, we are commanded multiple times by Jesus to be His witnesses on this earth. For example, in Mark 16:15 Jesus simply tells His disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Jesus refers to being a witness to others in Matthew 5:16 when He tells His disciples, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” In Acts 1:8, just before Jesus goes back into heaven, He leaves the disciples with this final command: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

There are also other times in Scripture that Jesus commands His disciples and us to be witnesses. If Jesus commands this so many times, it is especially important! Evangelism is important, but it must be accompanied by witnessing as well. We need to be walking the walk of witnessing with those in our lives, as much as we’re talking the talk of evangelism. How are you doing at this in your own life?