Testimony

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time.”- 1 Timothy 2:5-6

I began to contemplate and pray over that verse. The thing that jumped out at me was how differently Paul uses the word “testimony” than we do.
Today, we’d use the word “testimony” to describe a series of words, a monologue where we describe what Jesus has done for us. Our reason for offering up a testimony is usually to convert others. Often times we recognize that we need to do more than offer up words, but the thing is this: we still use “testimony” to describe the words we use. We say things like “We need to act Christ-like and then offer our testimony once we’ve built trust.” Testimony and action are seperate things.
The thing I notice is that the ransom is the testimony. This means, at the bare minimum, testimony and action are one and the same. If Jesus ransom of me is part of his testimony, then the things I do (and not just the words I say) are part of mine. On this understanding, the statement above is quite redundant. I wouldn’t act Christ-like first and then offer my testimony. I’d act Christ-like (partially) because it’s part of my testimony.
Perhaps there’s an even wider observation to be made. Sometimes I feel like we obsess on the cross. It’s as if the teachings before, they were a nice little appetizer. And the reseruction after was a tasty desert. But the crucifixion itself: that’s the meat and potatoes, that’s the entree itself.
In short, We identify those few hours as the atonement itself, usually.
But if we take this verse seriously it seems like there is an implication. If the testimony of Jesus is the same thing as his ransom of us, then the atonement took much longer than those few hours that Jesus hung on the cross. It was begun before his birth and it continued after his death. The atonement is ongoing, today, and Jesus teachings, both pre-Easter and post-Easter, these are intregal parts of the atonement itself.
There’s probably all sorts of implications for us in this. If we take this holistic view of what testimony is, then the very act of conversion becomes a wider drama, not a thing we can locate at only one place and time.
Choosing to follow Christ is just as important as the crucifixion itself. But these are both singular actions which exist in a wider drama.

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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