Biblical witness is relational and demonstrable. John’s gospel (1:6 -7) states that John the Baptist was “sent from God . . . to bear witness of the Light [Jesus], that all through him might believe.” Verses 14-18 name Jesus Christ the primary witness [the “Word became flesh”] who “declared” God, bringing access to “grace and truth.”
In Luke chapter 15, witness leads to searching, pursuit, sacrifice, and salvation. Service is a key component of this witness. The one that is lost becomes a higher priority than the 99.
Relentless love requires exertion. For example, an adult sheep weighs 110 to 120 pounds. The shepherd whose one sheep goes astray is not carrying a small lamb on his shoulders. Romans 5:8 (“while we were yet sinners”) similarly shows the difficulty of serving sacrificially: our status before salvation (enemies of God) required crucifixion. However, anguish changes to rejoicing when the one is saved and enters the family of God as an adopted child (in Luke 15, the son, having renounced his family connection, returns in the role of a suitor seeking acceptance in the role of a servant). The Father, celebrating and giving gifts, continues to serve the once-errant child.
Servant witness is other-directed. David’s claim in Psalm 40:9-10 (NKJV) demonstrates service as effort that can be witnessed by others: “I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness/In the great assembly. Indeed, I do not restrain my lips,/O Lord, You Yourself know./I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart;/I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation;/I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth/From the great assembly.” Proclaiming God’s goodness can be a joyous act, yet in this psalm David is emerging from difficult and painful times when he “waited patiently,” in a “horrible pit . . . miry clay . . .” Instead of quiet, restorative meditation, his service here requires public action, not in a small, intimate gathering but the greater community – perhaps including some who had not supported him in preceding trials (v. 13-14). It may also include public confession of sin, to which he alludes in v. 6 and 11-12.
I John 2:12-14 conveys the relational and generational nature of servant witness in familial terms. Notice the call to all ages – “little children,” “fathers,” “young men,” “children,” “fathers (i.e., parents), and “young men” (i.e., young adults). Moreover, John explicitly connects these reminders to his role as a writer. “I write to you . . . ,” “I wrote to you, . . . ,“ “I have written to you . . . .” Changing tenses show the constant nature of his writing service to the believing community.
Some of us exercise these functions in blog or social media posts, in Sunday School lessons, devotionals, Bible stories, or articles. Do we also continually encourage, instruct, remind, and exhort in fictional stories? In plays or screenplays? In sidebars or nonfiction pieces about plants, animals, technology or history? Without explicit preaching or teaching in every work, does our writing serve (bear witness) through truthful, thought-provoking and memorable content?-
Witness leads to forgiveness, restoration, strengthening; it reunites divided minds, friendships, families, communities. God Himself bears witness through His Word, works, and Spirit – and believers participate in the witness of service as we seek to be like Him. He models the writer’s servant witness of priority and purpose.
The lost one does not deserve to be found, but God deserves worship. Our obedience in seeking others after we have been found and restored becomes a means of giving Him glory. How often have you read a vivid, striking story that stops you in your tracks – – or profound, memorable words that resonate with your spirit’s need for comfort or insight?
May our writing in every genre bring this witness of service to readers.
Deborah S. DeCiantis
Debbie DeCiantis first connected with Write2Ignite Conference when she was called on to act as liaison between North Greenvile University and Write2Ignite in 2009. She accepted the role of acting director in 2016 and the role of director in 2017. Retired after more than 30 years of teaching on both college and K-12 levels, Debbie currently does freelance editing and critique writing. She enjoys living in the country and spending time with her husband, four adult children, six grandchildren, and too many dogs.
This and future discussions of biblical witness will be found in Author Resources.
One thought on “Writing, Service, and Witness”
Debbie, Thanks for this thought-provoking post. I’m sure I will revisit it for a deeper read and to critique my own writing for the message Christ desires for us to put forth.