Friday, May 28, 2010

What's Your Story?

What were you like before you became a Christian?  What are sins that you have struggled with in the past?  It can be frightening and difficult to open up about your story.  Many Christians struggle with the concept of witnessing in general and especially with the daunting task of sharing their own testimony.  What's so difficult about this simple idea?  It's scary to talk about your past and your sins.  You may be afraid that you will be judged, discredited, and put down because of your story.  You may be afraid that you will say the wrong thing.  You may think that your testimony isn't "big" enough to impact anyone.

I've always learned that there are three basic steps to giving your testimony:

1.) Who you were before Christ.
2.) What happened to change all this.
3.) Who you are now.

Easy, right?  Not always.

Do you know how to tell your testimony in a way that will impact those around you and make them want to know more about Jesus Christ?  If not, keep reading.  I want to help you out. 

How to share your testimony. 
A testimony is basically the story of how you became a Christian and how Jesus Christ has changed your life.  Your story can be short or long.  You can share details about your childhood or you can give a few basic points from your life before Christ.  When you give your testimony, try to relate to your listener.  Remember to include the three things that I mentioned above. 

Who you were before Christ- Mention a specific sin that you struggled with in your life before Jesus.  Talk about your unhappiness, that incomplete feeling you had inside.  Talk about how you were lost in your sin and you never could have made it to heaven on your own.  Make sure that your listener realizes that you were a sinner. 

What happened to change all this- Talk about what made you realize that you needed Jesus.  What led you to Christ- your parents, your pastor, a camp, the Bible, a book?  What did you tell God when you admitted that you were a sinner?  What emotions were running through your head?  (These emotions may be what your listener is feeling at this moment.) 

Who you are now-  Describe the joy and peace you feel that comes from Jesus and only Jesus.  Have you overcome your aforementioned sin since you became a Christian?  Be sure to mention that you still face challenges at times, but you have a new hope and confidence in Jesus.  How has God changed your life for the better?  

Why is sharing my testimony so important?
Sharing your faith is a crucial part of being a disciple of Christ.  In Matthew 28:19, 20, Jesus commands us to go and make disciples of all nations.  Jesus did not ask us- He commanded us to share the gospel with the world.  When have you last shared your faith? 

Telling your story is a great way to witness because it involves getting personal with a friend or acquaintance and sharing your own story of how you came to Christ.  Personal testimonies are often impacting and thought-provoking.  Have you ever been to a Christian concert when one of the artists stood up and gave a touching story of how they came to Christ?  Did you not get chills?  Were you not brought to tears?  Testimonies go beyond saying, "You should become a Christian because the Bible says so."  When you give your testimony, you're saying, "This is what Jesus Christ did for my life and this is what He can do for you."    

Is sharing my testimony Biblical?
The Bible never gives a word-by-word, step-by-step description of how you should tell people about Jesus.  What the Bible does say is that you should go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.  In 1 Timothy 1:12-17, Paul briefly gives his testimony to fellow believer Timothy.  In Acts 22, Paul gives a more detailed testimony to a large crowd in Jerusalem. 
I have a horrible past.  I'm afraid that others will judge me if I give my testimony.
Everybody has sinned.  It may be frightening and embarrassing to admit what your life was like before Christ.  Maybe you were an alcoholic or into drugs.  Maybe you robbed banks.  Maybe you were a compulsive liar or extremely depressed.  Maybe you had an abortion or slept around.  The truth is: yeah, no matter who you are, you've messed up at some point in your life. 

The good thing about giving your testimony is the fact that you can use your mistakes and your bad choices to help lead someone to the Lord.  You don't have to share every detail about who you used to be.  Your description of your past may consist of something like, "Before I became a Christian, I was into drugs and really depressed.  My life was miserable until..." and that could be as far as you go. 

No matter what you struggled with as an unbeliever, there are people who are struggling with that same issue right now.  Your story could be what helps them realize that they need Jesus.  Pray for the Lord to give you courage to share your story to those around you.  Your testimony can help impact someone for Jesus and your life-changing transformation will reflect glory on Him.     

I became a Christian when I was very young.  I don't really have a good testimony.
I've heard so many people- especially young people- give this excuse when faced with the challenge of sharing their testimony.  "I got saved when I was five.  Sure, I was a sinner, but I never really did anything that bad.  My story can't impact anyone."  Honestly, testimonies aren't supposed to be some competition about who has the most life-shattering story.  That's not how it works.  Sharing your testimony means you telling someone about how you became a Christian.  You don't have to have some crazy, action-packed life before you became a Christian.  Your story can be "small."  People will still be touched, because you're telling about what changed you

Your testimony can go something like this: "I grew up in a Christian environment.  I always went to church.  Even though I was a little kid, I still messed up.  I disobeyed my parents, I lied, and I fought with my brother.  When a kind lady at church told me about how Jesus had died on the cross for my sins, it hit me.  I asked Jesus into my heart right then and admitted that I had sinned and needed Him.  Ever since then, my life has been changed.  I still struggle with sins like lying, but Jesus has given me a peace and a strength that I wouldn't have in my life without Him.  I'm truly joyful because Jesus is in my heart."   

See?  You can use your story to describe what Jesus has done for you.  It may not be shocking enough to fill a book, but your story can always be used to impact others for the Lord.   

What's your testimony?
I'll post my testimony on this site tomorrow, so check back to read my story.  You can use my testimony as an example in which to write yours or you can simply read and see how Jesus Christ has changed my life.  If you're not a Christian, be sure to read my story and find out what Jesus has done for me and where I come from as a Christian.

What's your testimony?  Leave it in a comment below.


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