“Sent people” understand that they are in their profession, their neighborhood, or even a meeting room next to a certain person for a reason. And because of this, they’re always looking for how God is working around them, ways that they can join him in that work.
As Jesus said in his last words to the disciples, “You will be my witnesses…” (Acts 1:8). Whatever else the life of the disciple entails, it begins with the element of witness. We are those who, first and foremost, have a message to share. We’ve seen something, and we’ve got to say something.
The Bible uses several analogies to play up our identity as witnesses. Here are five. Well—technically, four biblical ones and one Greear-ish one:
1. We are farmers.
In the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1–9), the farmers were always casting seed. Even though some of the seed would inevitably not sprout because of the soil it fell on, the farmer knew that some of it would. So he continued to sow. When it comes to the gospel message, we should do the same, sowing as broadly as we can.
2. We are fishermen.
When Jesus called Peter and Andrew to follow him, they were out on their fishing boat, casting nets into the sea (Matthew 4:18–22). Jesus used their profession to illustrate what their new lives would be like: “Follow me and you’ll start fishing for people.” As “fishers of men,” we’ve always got our line in the water. Why? Because we never know when God is going to send “the big one” right under our boat.
3. We are metal detectors.
Yes, this is the Greear-ish one. But I love this analogy.
Most of what I do when I share the gospel is simply asking questions. I’m just trying to see where God is already at work. And, to be honest, a lot of times, nothing happens. It’s like sweeping a metal detector over the sand: Most of the time nothing is there. But everyone now and then, the machine dings and beeps like crazy. (Can you tell I actually don’t own a metal detector?)
And for all the times the questions lead nowhere, sometimes it actually leads somewhere.
Like recently, as I was flying, when I asked the passenger next to me about her life. The conversation seemed to be going nowhere, and I assumed my “metal detector sweep” hadn’t turned up anything. But then she told me that she was a nurse working with terminal patients, to which I said, “It’s got to be hard working around death all the time.”
Her response? “Honestly, death scares me to death.” That led to a conversation where I shared my story and what I love about Jesus with her.
When we parted, I said, “Consider the fact that sitting next to each other on this flight wasn’t an accident. God put you next to me so I could ask you these questions.” To which she said, “Yeah, I’m already way ahead of you! I know this was not accidental.”
4. We are royal ambassadors.
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:20 that we’re royal ambassadors. We’ve been placed in our neighborhoods and cities, but we aren’t citizens of those places. We really represent the King of another country. When people have questions about or need something from him, they can come to our embassy, so to speak.
5. We are a kingdom of priests.
Finally, we’re a kingdom of priests. Each of us is a priest or priestess, a mediator between God and humanity, praying for others and relaying his message to those around them.
Priests, royal ambassadors, fishermen, farmers … and metal detectors. In a word, witnesses. That’s what God has called us to be.