I have spent a lot of time lately studying and pondering the role of a witness in our world. I watch a lot of police procedural shows on TV (think “Law and Order” for example…) and so I thought I’d develop my own definition first before heading over to Dictionary.com. Here’s what I came up with:
A witness is an individual who has seen and/or experienced something about which someone else wants information. Despite the differences any number of witnesses might have in individual perceptions, strength and reliability of memory, and the ability to clearly express themselves, it is expected that, from “honest” answers, a clearer picture of what really happened develops. The picture builds greater certainty in what this “something” is/was.
So then, if only out of curiosity, I went over to Dictionary.com and compared what was there with mine:
verb (used with object)
- to see, hear, or know by personal presence and perception – e.g. to witness an accident
- to be present at (an occurrence) as a formal witness, spectator, bystander, etc. – e.g. she witnessed our wedding
verb (to be used without object)
- to bear witness; testify; give or afford evidence
- an individual who, being present, personally sees or perceives a thing; a beholder, spectator, or eyewitness
- a person or thing that affords evidence
- a person who gives testimony, as in a court of law
…and so on. You get the idea.
The first thing I noticed is that, generally, a witness is first and foremost, someone who actually experienced something and then can share that experience. The witness’s story is what gives the event credibility in the eyes of others. As others (the “cloud of witnesses”) tell their stories and these stories lend further credibility to an event, the more likely those who are trying to find out what really happened (the event….) find the event believable for themselves.
So the idea I arrived at is that you don’t set out to become a witness.
You are a witness, by virtue of the experiences you have. Others are more interested in your story than in a lecture, especially in these days when “words are cheap” but living experiences are real.
Consider your experiences of God, what that relationship does in your world, and how God’s love is lived from you into this world. Witness.