Witness: for Defense or Prosecution?

Have you ever been a trial witness? Being put on the stand can be an unsettling thing.

I have only once been called upon to be a witness in a courtroom; this was an insurance hearing for a personal accident in which I was the innocent victim.

Being a witness can be a tricky thing; lawyers have a way of casting doubt concerning the validity of a testimony.  My case was judged in favor of the plaintiff, the driver who hit my car, because his lie (or bad recall) was judged more believable than my testimony of the truth.

We’ve been following the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson’s personal physician, on ABC news for the past month or so.  Dr. Murray is being charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Jackson on June 25, 2009.

The testimony of a key witness for the defense was turned on its ear by the prosecuting attorney this past week.  Dr. Paul White, the expert defense witness for Dr. Conrad Murray, was supposed to be one of the strongest keys to Dr. Murray’s vindication for actions taken the night Michael Jackson died.  What resulted was a series of answers that actually indicated possible negligence on Dr. Murray’s part.

Though I have never been called on to be a witness in a criminal or civil trial, as a Christian, a Spirit-born follower of Jesus, a disciple of Christ, I am a witness!  I don’t know where I may have to testify for my faith, as many witnesses who have gone before me.

The disciples were told that they would be led before kings and governors for a witness of Christ Jesus.

Luke 21:13-15   “ . . .  you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13This will result in your being witnesses to them. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.

John the baptizer was sent by God as a witness to the authenticity of Jesus – identifying him as “the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”.

John 1:6-9 “There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

Christians are also to “bear witness to the light”.  The way we become genuine Christians is through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit of God. The empowerment for our witness is after we have receive the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Notice that we are not asked to be witnesses, we are told that “you will be my witnesses . . . “.

If you are a Christian, the question you have to ask yourself is not “Will I be a witness?”, but “What kind of witness am I being?” to people around you in your daily life and spirit beings in the unseen world who are watching you.

Heb.12:1-3  “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Once people know that you are a believer, a Christ follower, they will be watching you closely. It’s not enough to say, “Don’t look at me, I’m not perfect.” and to use that for an excuse for being a bad witness.

Our Savior, our Heavenly Father, and the faith we ascribe to, are being judged by our behavior. That’s why the writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews says to:

“. . . throw off everything that hinders and the sin that gets us all tangled up”. Heb. 12:1

The way we live is more important than our words – it either validates or discredits what we say we believe. Sometimes people can’t hear us for what they see in our behavior; our words and our walk don’t line up.

My husband and I were watching a short documentary video called 180 recently. A sampling of people were asked if they would ever kill anyone. Most said “No.” Then the question was modified, “Would you kill if ordered to do so, as in the concentration camps in Nazi Germany and Austria.” They all said “No.” Then the questioner added, “What if they told you that if you did not comply, you would be shot, would you kill someone then?” Most of those interviewed, irrespective of age, said “Yes, I would.”

Our verbal witness has to be backed-up by our action witness – which can’t be based on a situational ethic. How far would you go for your witness?

Rev.2:13  ”These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. 13 I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.”

There are nations where “Satan has his throne.” We have been praying for months now for Asia Bibi, the Pakistani woman who has been imprisoned for 2 years because of her Christian faith, and Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who is facing a death penalty for his faith in Christ. Both are holding firm to their faith in their Savior Jesus, living witnesses to the love of God.

We are to be such witnesses to anyone and everyone regarding our relationship to Jesus:

Acts 22:15-16 “You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now what are you waiting for?” (Ananias to Paul)

As I thought of this blog topic while sitting on my deck the other day, I asked God some questions: “Father, what kind of a witness am I?  Does my life point people toward You or give people a good reason not to have faith in You?”

I don’t want the “prosecuting attorney” – the “accuser of the brethren” – to be able to turn my testimony against my Savior in the eyes of the world; I want my beliefs, my words, and my lifestyle to form a consistent witness. It would be better not to talk about my Savior at all, than to give a mixed message.

As the lyrics of a Casting Crowns song entitled “Lifesong” say, “I want to sign your name to the end of this day, knowing that my heart was true. Let my lifesong sing to You.”*

Something to think about this week: are you a witness for the defense or the prosecution of Christ?

©2011, Marcy Alves


About Marcy

I love my Father-God. Together we are walking through a season of my life where I am standing with him against cancer. He is my strength and trust. As one of his daughters, my passion is to share his love with others in practical, everyday illustrations and insights.

Posted on November 6, 2011, in Christian Growth, Follow Me, God Encounters, In the News, Reflections and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Marcy
    I love it, I have often asked myself how good a witness am I. Sometimes I feel frustrated when someone doesn’t want to listen. In those times I pray and put it in God’s hands.

  2. Great post and you have spoken of things I have asked myself about being a witness. Thank you for this post. I hope it sparks questions within us all to see where we stand. Casting Crowns is one of my favorite Christian music groups. That song speaks volumes. From East to West in another of my compelling songs that speak to my heart as well as If We Are the Body.

    Anyway, I appreciate this post as it has given me something to think about even more. Bless you Marcy.

    • Glad to have your as a reader, Terra. Thanks for the encouragement. Many of Casting Crowns songs are movingly meaningful to me. I relate to many of their songs, as In Me and Love Them Like Jesus. Praise You in the Storm was a song that a dear friend gave me when I was diagnosed with breast cancer about 3 1/2 years ago. God is so good.

  3. Thank you for this post, Marcy. This is really on my heart, as well…Am I living wholly for God? Is love for Him – His Love in me – what drives everything I do?

    O Lord, please make it so! You have given me life. You are my life. Let your name be high and lifted up in my life and in all the earth. Continue your good work in me and in all believers, so that your light can shine brighter until the light of day! In your holy name, Jesus. Amen.

    I also pray God will tuck you under His wing and cover you with His love as you deal with cancer!

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