Every subculture has its own language, its own definition of success or popularity, its own hierarchy. And if you join that subculture there’s a learning curve. You have to learn how to speak, how to thrive and how to stand out.
Church is usually no different.
If you stick around long enough you’ll begin to pick up on the little subtleties. You learn what you’re supposed to say, not because you really mean it, but because it’s the language of your new tribe. You also learn how to participate in the unspoken competitive games in order to impress the unspoken spectators by following the unspoken rules and thereby earn some unspoken points.
One such competition is the testimony game. Your testimony is basically the spiritual version of your “Before and After” photo.
There are three kinds of testimonies that you need to understand in order to beat your competitors.
1. The Boring Testimony
Boring testimonies are by far the worst. Bottom of the totem poll. It’s the Christian who grew up in church, prayed the sinner’s prayer at three years old, was baptized at four, and ordained at seven. Sure, there were some bumps along the way. But hey, nobody’s perfect.
Ultimately, there isn’t anything special about this testimony. Some would even say this person doesn’t really have a testimony. If this describes you, you’re never going to be invited to share with your youth group or be a part of a video interview for the baptism service.
My advice? You had better figure out how to spice it up a bit if you want your story to have any hope of standing out.
2. The Radical Testimony
Radical testimonies are top rung. The more drugs, sex and rock n’ roll in your life before Jesus rescued you, the better. If you met Jesus only after being brought to the end of your rope, you’ll be guaranteed a top ten position in the testimony game, for sure.
But if you want to win, you need to give every detail you can think of. Maybe even add a little for good measure. Make it count.
If you can manage to shed a tear or two, you’ll probably be called to fill the college pastor vacancy.
3. The In-Progress Testimony
In-progress testimonies are just confusing.
We don’t know what to do with them, and we don’t really like to talk about them. We love the story of the guy who hasn’t taken another sip of alcohol since the night he surrendered to Christ, or the lady who didn’t even experience withdrawals when she gave up drugs five years ago. And while we all roll our eyes at the “holier-than-thou” loser with the boring testimony, at least we know he’s legit.
But the “in-progress” Christian. What are we supposed to do with him? What do you do with the person who turned to Jesus, but found it all but impossible to turn from his sin or addiction? I mean, did he really get saved or not?
The trouble is, if we’re really honest, all of us are “in-progress” Christians. As much as I’d love to sing one of my favorite hymns with sincerity and honesty, “I have decided to follow Jesus; No turning back,” that just isn’t my story.
I have decided to follow Jesus, but I sometimes feel like I turn back to my old self daily.
No matter how many times I ask forgiveness, anger still seems to take over without warning, pride wells up in my heart at a moment’s notice, and even sexual temptation never seems far away.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all be a bit more honest? What if we could all humbly admit that our testimony is still in-progress and will be until Jesus takes us home?
It’s ok to not be ok. It’s not ok to hide it and make yourself look godlier than you really are. Transparency is often the beginning of healing.
You may also like:
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- 3 reasons to doubt what you heard from God (1 of 2)
- Your inner atheist.
- You Will Never Win Your Fight Against Porn.
- You’re not as pro-life as you think you are.
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