“Having seen Christ, his disciples do not consequently look at nothing else; but as witnesses, they are positively entreated to look at everything else in a new way.”
— Craig Hovey, Bearing True Witness: Truthfulness in Christian Practice
Just in time to ring in the New Year! Everyone should go out and get a copy of Craig Hovey’s latest book, Bearing TrueWitness: Truthfulness in Christian Practice. It is a challenge and a call to all believers of the Christian faith. How are we living as God intends for us to live? How are we truthful? Are we truthful? How do we bear the message of the Gospel? Hovey’s responses to these questions challenge the reader to begin to see our lives as Christian witnesses in a new way.
A Christian witness is much like a witness as we know it in a legal sense; we tell what we see, and we share what we experience. This interpretation of witness poses a great risk to modern Christianity in that it implicitly acknowledges that no matter how great our communication skills may be, there will always be people who reject and may even show animosity toward the Gospel. Being a truthful witness is risky because we accept that we will be faced with adversity; it is a challenge because we nevertheless are compelled to do it.
On the other hand, it would be too easy to simply construct a false testimony, something pleasing to the ear to draw in the masses, since that which is a deliberate falsehood, according to Hovey, is typically crafted to be more appealing. We naturally want people to believe us whether we tell the truth or not. As he writes, what is most pleasing to us may be smooth, when what is true and real is rough or difficult to believe. We choose to deceive ourselves; we desire to hear smooth things when it is rough things that are really there under the surface. Even when the ice melts, the ground underneath it is hard and rocky. The truth of the Gospel is not always as smooth as we often wish for it to be.