Discerning Church Learning to discern the movement of God's Spirit

God's Story

For the past couple of weeks, we have been following the lectionary passages through the first epistle of John. I have to admit, I have spent very little in this letter. However, I am discovering the full-bodied compositions of the elder John. This week, we are exploring chapter 5.

The apostle John had quite the experience. As a young man, he left his fishing boat to follow Jesus. He spent three years at Jesus’ side. Watching Jesus heal, nurtured by Jesus’ teaching, he ultimately witnessed Jesus’ death on the Cross. Also, he experienced the resurrection of Jesus and the birth of the church. He was there as the church spread across the Roman Empire. He encountered the dangers of false teachers as well as outside threat of persecution. No doubt, John was able to witness much in his lifetime.

If anyone had a story, it was John. Yet John is less concerned with his story and more concerned with God’s story. John writes,

(1 John 5:9 NIV11-GK) We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.

John encountered the story of God. He bears witness to God’s monumental movement in history, the sending of His Son. The word that is translated as testimony is the Greek word martyria. The root of the word is martyr. A martyr is someone who is killed for their faith. They hold to the truth even as it costs them their life. As they die, their story is confirmed.

They have a testimony or martyria. The word is sometimes translated as evidence. The term is often used in English in regards to a court of law. People, in court, take the stand and communicate what they saw, heard or experienced. John wants his readers to know that his testimony is not his own. He has been a part of God’s testimony. His story is so tied up in God’s story that it is hard to distinguish which is which.

As we discern the movement of God in our midst, may we be a people who join God’s story. While our experiences are valid and need to be shared, may we be more concerned about what God is doing. Certainly, we each have a testimony to share. But may our testimonies be framed in God’s mission. May we learn to entwine our lives in God’s intentions for our world and community. May we seek his guidance as we strive to connect our lives to his mission in our world.