SanLo Community, an update for the week of January 20, 2019…
Thank you Pastor Brian for the message from John 1:6-8, 19-23, “Uniquely You.” Everyone is a story; not has a story but is a story. Your life is a testimony for others to see. Your testimony may be similar to others, it may be dramatic or not so dramatic but it is “Uniquely You.” This is our second week in the book named after the writer John the Apostle. I want to make clear that the author of John is John the Apostle, not John the Baptist because this morning we are introduced to John the Baptist, born to Elizabeth who was related to Mary, the mother of Jesus, making John the Baptist a relative of Jesus. John the Baptist is described as an unusual man who lived in the desert, was clothed with camel hair, a leather belt, and ate locusts and wild honey. John the Baptist is a unique story. He knew his calling and he knew his message. John had a one of kind story in Christ just as every believer is a unique Christ-centered testimony. But what is your testimony in Christ? What should be included in it? As we learn about John the Baptist we will discover what is a Christ-centered testimony.
1) A Christ-centered testimony is FOCUSED. (vv.6-8) As followers of Christ, Jesus should be the focal point of everything we do in family, work, and play. A life that is Christ-centered influences the way we think and reflects how much we value Jesus over all else, even ourselves. John the Baptist knew he was chosen and sent by God to accomplish one thing. His focus was to prepare the way for Jesus, the Light. He knew he was not the Light but he was to tell others about the Light. Note: testify, testimony and witness in these verses come from the same Greek word from which we get our word martyr. To be a martyr means your commitment to something or someone is beyond yourself. John was so focused that we know later from Mark 6:27 that he was beheaded in prison. That’s total commitment and focus. Just as John was chosen and sent for a purpose, you and I who have received and believed in Jesus as Savior are also given the task to tell others about Jesus. How can we keep our story focused getting our family, co-workers and friends ready for Jesus?
One way others see that our testimony is Christ-centered is how we respond to hardships, pain, and disappointments. There is a false teaching that when you become a follower of Christ, your life will be trouble free, filled with abundance and success. It’s true God promises an abundant life but often that life comes through trials. In John 16:33 Jesus says “In Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation but take courage; I have overcome the world.” Jesus was preparing us for the problems we will face by reminding us that in adversity Jesus will help you through it. Many go to Jesus since He understands our hardships because of what He endured. Your testimony is revealed by how you respond to losing your job, a family member or friend, or how you react to being misunderstood for your faith. In the troubles you will encounter you can remain focused in your Christ-centered testimony by remembering that Jesus empathizes and relates to your hurts and hardships because He went through them too. When we focus upon Jesus in all situations both good and bad, your Christ-centered testimony has a great impact.
2) A Christ-centered testimony is TRUTHFUL. (vv.19-21) A Christ-centered testimony is honest. Lies should not be a part of your story. But sometimes speaking truth can be difficult when pressured and unsure of why questions are being asked of you. Isn’t it tempting at times to change your story in order to defend yourself? How about if you knew that altering your story just a little would increase your status? John the Baptist faced two situations like this. When John the Baptist was asked “Who are you?” by the Jewish religious leaders, (vv.20-21) he did not deny but confessed I am not the Christ, Elijah or the prophet thought to be Jeremiah. It took strength, conviction and courage to tell the truth because he did not know the motive behind the questions. John could’ve changed his story to protect and elevate himself by claiming he was Christ, Elijah or Jeremiah. More than likely they would have believed him because of what he had accomplished and the crowds that followed.
Elevating oneself in a false way to protect yourself or gain recognition can be tempting. When we become more concerned about protecting and promoting ourselves rather than Jesus it becomes easier to tell the white lie, alter our story and be less truthful. We need to remember that being truthful increases credibility and positively adds to your reputation as a follower of Christ. Proverbs 22:1 emphasizes the value of a good reputation. “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold.” Telling your Christ-centered testimony truthfully gives God the glory through your good reputation. Your testimony is very important in telling the good news of Jesus Christ. When you focus on Jesus and truthfully share your life in Him you are being an effective representative of Jesus our Lord.
3) A Christ-centered testimony is HUMBLE. (vv.22-23) Pride should not be a part of your testimony. Sharing your life with humility is hard to do when you have some measure of success. It’s especially difficult to remain humble when God has accomplished much in and through you. In verse 22, the religious leaders asked John the Baptist again, who are you? His response in verse 23 displayed John’s humility. He said he was nothing but a voice getting ready for the King. All the gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke record John’s response. What John was saying was: “I am nobody; I am only a voice preparing the path, the road, the way for the coming King.” John the Baptist humbly owned the call and owned the message. Despite the great success of his preaching ministry, and the widespread respect he held, John is unaffected by his success. John was what every true Christ-follower ought to be— a voice, who points to King Jesus.
Genuine humility comes from honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.” To be truly humble is to understand your existence is dependent upon God’s love through Jesus. How do we stay humble when we share our testimony? Let your life be about God and not yourself. Remember how His holiness overcame your sinfulness.
For the one who has believed and received Jesus as the Son of God, your story is Christ. You are a child of His. You are precious to the Father who loves you beyond your imagination. Your testimony is that you are Jesus’ beloved. Practice telling your Christ-centered testimony. How did you meet Jesus? What changes have happened since meeting Him? Are you more patient, kind, or forgiving? Do you have a better perspective of life? Use John’s example to keep Jesus the FOCUS of your testimony, tell it TRUTHFULLY and HUMBLY because Jesus is the one who changed your life so that others may know Him.
Songs of Praise and Worship:
* Lamb of God * How Great Thou Art * How Great is our God * I Will Rise