Friday, August 17, 2012

Witness: Intentional, Unintentional, and Normative

All of us live in the Global Technological System (GTS). In this GTS, Olympianity is the most important religion. The GTS itself is the fullest embodiment yet of the will of the Olympian gods and of our devotion to them. Worse, the more powerful the GTS grows, the more inescapably Olympian it makes our societies, cultures, and personalities. Even as Christians and churches, we are increasingly expressing our devotion to these Olympian gods without even realizing it.

A witness is a person who tells other people about what they have heard and seen. Even though we all live in the GTS, Jesus still invites every person, each day, to witness to what they hear him saying and see him doing. Sometimes we do.

At the same time, Jesus differs from the six gods of Olympianity. We might call him the one odd god of truth, freedom, love, and vitality. When we witness to his words and actions, this makes us odd too. We can use different adjectives to qualify our witness to Jesus as the one odd god. Previously we have called witnesses to Jesus unconventional, marginal, mischievous, and radiant. We might also refer to them as intentional, unintentional, and normative.

To be a witness to Jesus of any kind, at any time, requires the grace of God. Grace is God’s unmerited love. It is a gift. It is given to us despite the truth that none of us deserve it ever.

Again, to be a witness of any kind to Jesus, God must first share his unmerited love with us in two ways. Jesus must freely speak his liberating word in love to us today. Then the Holy Spirit must freely enable us to discern, and affirm, these liberating and loving words of Jesus. Without these expressions of God’s love, none of us can be a witness to Jesus. With these expressions of God’s love, anyone can be.

Jesus does not limit his liberating and loving words to people who call themselves Christian. He speaks to every person because he loves every person. Some people, by his grace, discern and affirm his words and call themselves Christians. We may regard them as intentional witnesses to Jesus.

Other people, by his grace, respond to his words but do not call themselves Christians. They call themselves Jews, Muslims, or even Olympians. Even so, when they speak or act in ways that witness to the truth, freedom, love, and vitality of the one odd god, then they too are witnesses to Jesus. We might call them unintentional witnesses.

To know whether we are witnessing to our unconventional Jesus or to the always conventional gods of Olympianity, we need some kind of standard against which to measure ourselves. For that Jesus gives us the Bible. Jesus delights to use, even today, the words of the Bible to serve as our normative witness to him. Even today he takes the words of the Bible, more than any other words, and speaks through them to us to provide us with the clearest possible sense of whether we also are witnessing to him or not.

It is not what we call ourselves. It is not how others see us. We live as witnesses to Jesus whenever, but only, at those times when we share his truth, freedom, love, and vitality with others. But whenever we do that, we do that solely by his grace. And for that we may be truly grateful.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.