I got an unexpected chance to be a witness this past weekend when Lynn and I took a quick trip to Tucson, AZ to attend a good friends Air Force retirement ceremony. I can’t tell you how bizarre it was to step back into that world & environment for a few days. I literally hadn’t set foot in a Fighter Squadron since I got out of the Air Force in 2003.
And the stranger thing was to see everyone who I was a dumb lieutenant with now grown up & in charge of things. I think it was just as bizarre for them to see me as a Pastor (I did the invocation at the ceremony).
What’s your Mission?
But it provided a lot of unexpected opportunities to witness to my faith. I had conversations with people about their problems with “organized religion.” I listened to stories of how people had been hurt by the church, or mistreated by their “religious” in-laws, or had struggled with faith after the sudden loss of a loved one. It gave me all these opportunities to share my faith and my views from a Christian perspective.
One person cornered me and wanted to know what if it’s not true? What if you get to the end and there is no heaven, nothing? After a long conversation I finally came to the conclusion that if that does happen (which I don’t think it will), then I will have spent my life following the example of the finest human being I have ever known or heard of. I will have spent my life guided by the teachings of a person who has spoken to me like nobody in this world has ever come close to doing. A person who 2000 years ago described a life and a way of interacting with the world and with humanity that is still unequaled, still challenging, still relevant and still condemning for us all!
In talking with a general there, we agreed that being a pastor and being a general in the military are not all that different. In his daily work he is concerned about one thing, his mission! He works to carry out that mission by supporting and loving and caring for his troops and by building relationships and trust with the community around him.
Called to be Witnesses
And we are called to be witnesses to these things, to all nations, which isn’t as scary or difficult as it may sound to our Lutheran ears. One author describes how without realizing it we witness to things that we care about every single day. And often we make the idea of witnessing so difficult; maybe because of a terrible experience we have had with a Jehovah’s Witness at our door, or a time when someone tried to shove their version of religion down our throat. But Christian witness is simply nothing more than sharing where you think God is at work in your life and in the world.
We talk with people all the time about the things that are important to us, we argue, we laugh, we debate, we tweet and post, we witness. We bear witness to the things we love all the time but often we don’t think of it regarding our faith, and still Jesus sends us out into the world as his witnesses. Jesus realized there is no perfect way to witness, or perfect recipe to follow. But he did know what still holds true today and was clear to me this past weekend while surrounded by all my Air Force friends: that despite all the missions that people have embarked upon over the last 2000 years, and the power of all the weapons they have used to get to mission accomplished, there’s no greater mission in the world than the one we are given from our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ.
This is our Mission
It’s the mission of repentance and forgiveness in his name to all people. Through the priesthood of all believers, you are all called to be generals in this mission. Our weapon is love, and there has never been anything created that can rival its power. This is your mission, this is our mission… together… as God’s people and what a glorious opportunity we have been given in this time and place to be his witnesses in the world today!
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