Bearing Witness to the Risen Christ (Part 5)
Last week we saw from Acts 22 that one way Christians can bear witness to Christ is to share the story of how they encountered him (i.e., share a “personal testimony”). That’s exactly what Paul did when he spoke to the hostile Jerusalem crowds: he told the story of how he had encountered the risen Christ on the road to Damascus.
But the author of Acts records another interesting observation about this speech in Jerusalem. He says that “when they [the Jerusalem crowd] heard that he [Paul] was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet” (Acts 22:2). So the moment Paul started speaking to them, their ears perked up. Even though, just a moment ago, they had been trying to kill him, now they give him a bit of a hearing. Why? Because he was speaking in their language. Paul, the speaker, had something in common with the audience, and so they listened to what he had to say.
And this leads us to the second principle as we seek to tell others about Jesus: As we witness to Jesus, we will inevitably connect better with certain people because we “speak their language.” Because of who we are, and where we’re from, and how we talk, and how we dress, and the things we are interested in, we are just naturally going to have an easier time talking to certain people. That’s just the way the world works. And we should take advantage of this principle when bearing witness to Jesus.
Paul certainly did. He gave the Jerusalem crowd all kinds of details about himself that he doesn’t give when he tells the same story in Acts 26, in another city to another group of people. In Acts 22, before the Jewish crowd, he tells them where he was born, where he went to school, and mentions that he was raised right there in the city of Jerusalem. Why does he do this? Because he wants to let the Jewish people know, “I am one of you.” And if they know that he is “one of them,” they are more likely to listen to what he has to say.
This is true for us today. As I mentioned earlier, because of who God has made us to be and because of the life experiences he has allowed us to have, we naturally will find it easier to share Jesus with certain people than with others. And that’s ok! We should embrace it and “exploit” it for God’s glory (so long as we don’t use it as an excuse to ignore people we have a harder time talking to).
Next week we will examine Acts 24 to draw out another principle for evangelism today.