It’s a challenge to live as faithful witnesses of Christ. So I was pleased to recently discover help in a surprising place: the story of Abraham.
Abraham’s world was not so different from ours. He was called by God to sojourn in a place that was not his home, among people who believed differently, in a culture rife with incivility. Amid such turbulence, Abraham sought with eyes of faith a city that was to come (Heb. 13:14).
Abraham wasn’t perfect; his witness often faltered. In Genesis 20, he meets a king named Abimelech. Fearful that Abimelech might kill him and take his beautiful wife Sarah, Abraham pretends Sarah is his sister and allows Abimelech to take her. God intervenes by inflicting Abimelech’s household with temporary infertility and warning him to return Sarah to Abraham, which he does.
When Abimelech confronts Abraham, Abraham explains: “I did it because I thought, ‘There is no fear of God at all in this place….’” The irony is profound. Abraham saw in Abimelech someone who did not fear God, but it was Abraham who did not fear God! Further, Abimelech turns out to be someone who does fear God, and God uses him to bless Abraham!
Three lessons resonate with me. First, faithful witnessing requires being driven by faith in God rather than by fear of others. Our witness falters when we allow fear of the world to override our sense of God’s presence around us.
Second, we ought not peg others as lost causes. It is often us, not others, who fail to fear God. God may be drawing them to Christ or working in them in surprising ways. There are many in this city who are God’s people (Acts 18:10), and in his common grace, God uses even those who don’t fear him to do good and bless us.
Third, God’s design for our witness is to bless others, not fear them. Fear kept Abraham from blessing Abimelech. In the end, however, Abraham heals Abimelech’s household, returning to his mission to be a channel of divine blessing to the nations.
This is the vision we seek to cast for our New City Fellows – to see with eyes of faith all the ways God is at work around us and to carry out our mission to bring gospel blessing to our world. Please join us in praying that he would work this way in the lives of our 25 new Fellows! Perhaps this is a prayer for you, too.
Program Coordinator for New City Fellows