Bearing Witness: Being People of One God in Christ Above All Idols
Third Sunday in Lent: March 3, 2013
Witness bearing! A term of great significance to the Christian Church, it conjures up many images—some not so positive—when we think of the toll that bearing witness for Christ has taken upon Christians throughout the ages. It is about a closer, personal relationship with God, following the example of Christ, who bore witness to the heavenly truth. He portrayed this in his concern for the physical, spiritual and social needs of the sick, despised, marginalized and suffering, whom he embraced, identified and dialogued with, cared for in a contextually relevant manner, without partiality, by crossing the boundary of his own people and culture, making them his witnesses in the process.
Today, we have replaced the “golden calf” of Israelites with an insatiable drive to reach the top of the corporate ladder or with myriad other passionate pursuits, including our redefinition of God, recast in our personal image, to comply with our own inclinations and desires, making us the less demanding, less judgmental god of our lives, no longer adhering to the one true God of whom Paul reminds us, the one who was destroyed in the wilderness, for sinning.
Our “cherished idols” have one thing at the core, the three-fold enemy associated with self that directly and ultimately destroys our lives—
- The lust of the flesh and of the eyes;
- Materialism, the acquisition of all manner of possessions;
- Pride, ego and arrogance in the obsession with careers and jobs to appear more successful in the eyes of the world;
- The idolization of mankind through the illusion that as scientists, we are in charge of the world, building our self-esteem to godlike proportions;
- Self-aggrandizement to the exclusion of all others, their needs and desires.
It is within the capacity of each of us to become his witness, and the church, through us, is called to bear witness to the life-giving power of Jesus by involving itself in the daily affairs of the world, whether political, social or religious.
When I look back over the years of my life, in hindsight, I can see God at work , accomplishing his purposes for me in unlikely circumstances. This remembrance of things past, of God’s care for me in often unexpected ways, becomes the safe place at the center of my life and the assurance that God will continue to be with me. My ordinary life, which has been changed by an extraordinary God, has over the years, allowed me to serve women, most of whom have very few material possessions but are rich in joy, contentment and inner peace.
My witness-bearing efforts include the establishment of a vibrant ministry with prisoners that has seen the doors of partnerships opening beyond my wildest dreams, with a great potential for reaching souls. Resourcing the World Day of Prayer, as well as Cameroon National Committee, enriches my life ecumenically, as I combine all these with a series of thematic capacity-building, leadership and team-building workshops, some joining men and women, which shows great potential in making a difference. There is no lack of work in the mission field.
Through Paul, God kindly reassures us, as we are daily bombarded with temptation, that he is always there. If we only look about us, we will see a way he has provided that will help us resist. Remembering what God has done in the past will strengthen and encourage us in times of weakness and weariness, because the surest way to find the Lord is to seek him through a relationship with Jesus Christ, who alone fulfills this longing for eternal life.
Catherine Mudime Akale is a Regional Missionary in Sub-Saharan Africa with United Methodist Women.