By Cheryl Mah
Our stories of faith, or testimonies, tell of the ways we came to be saved by Christ. While many people choose salvation in their adulthood, there are also plenty of others who were raised as Christians from a young age. In this regard, there seems to be two groups of Christians – those who are merely ‘saved’ and those who are gloriously ‘saved’ from a life of depravity.
For someone who grew up in a family of faith (born and bred) and considers themselves a faithful Christian, sometimes I feel invisible or that my testimony is less celebrated compared to dramatic stories of conversion – even to the extent of feeling like the elder son in the story of The Prodigal Son. If you recall the details of this well-known parable: the elder son was furious with his father for lavishly celebrating the return of his younger brother who had squandered away his inheritance (Luke 15:22-24). Upon seeing this, the elder son questioned his worth and the glory of his relationship with his father (Luke 15:29), comparing it to what he felt was his brother’s worth to his father (Luke 15:30).
In the Parable of the Lost Sheep, Jesus tells the story of a man who loses one of his hundred sheep yet leaves the 99 of them behind to go and find the lost one (Luke 15:4). Jesus even states, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Luke 15:7) Similarly, in the Parable of the Lost Coin (Luke 15:8-10), a woman loses one of her ten silver coins and rejoices with friends and neighbours when she found the missing one.
The common thread that weaves these three parables together is that they all illustrate joy when a lost sinner is rescued by Christ. But… where does this leave the rest of us who find ourselves in the position of the prodigal son’s elder brother, or the 99 sheep, or the 9 silver coins? Are our testimonies embarrassing or worthless because we think that our story is nothing amazing to begin with? By sharing our so-called mediocre testimony with others, would we be robbing them of experiencing the full weight of God’s glory and grace in our lives?
The answer is a resounding “NO”.
All of us are sinners and all of us feel the pull of worldly temptations. However, when the Holy Spirit convicts us, we still turn to God to ask for forgiveness. When we do that, we experience the fullness of God’s grace and mercy. Without His compassion (including the fact that He sent Jesus to die for us), we would be the ones suffering death i.e., the payment for our sins (Ephesians 2:1–3; Romans 6:23). We acknowledge that we are made alive in Christ because He has redeemed us; and we have enjoyed the grace, mercy and love of God in our everyday lives – hence this is the exact reason why our testimony will never be ordinary or boring.
The same applies to those of us who grew up in a family of faith, and who accepted Christ as our saviour at a young age. Hearing how Jesus can shape hearts from a young age encourages and brings hope to people that children can grow up loving God, despite living in a sinful world that continues to challenge the tenets of the Christian faith.
The dramatic stories or testimonies of others are not meant to outshine our own story of salvation. Instead, we must focus on the true purpose for sharing a testimony – that is to share with others how God has worked in our lives and how that should be something for which to praise Him. Everything about our stories should be about God, and we glorify Him by sharing our testimony about His sacrifice and grace (not even about our own sin or how we have responded). By keeping the focus on God and God alone when we share our testimonies, we will surely rid our minds of the falsity that our testimony is ‘ordinary’.
Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.