Some of us are by nature, not so much shy as fearful (that would be me!) So when the teacher challenged us on Sunday with defining 'witness' and 'testimony' the feeling came over me that 'we're in for it now'.
We were reminded of what we know, that in the Greek a 'witness' comes from the same root word as 'martyr'. Witness is risk
In the English dictionary along with the obvious meanings of giving witness to a fact or truth, it emphasises that this profession is to be done openly. Hebrew adds "to say again and again". Once is not enough, it seems. It is continuous action.
Peter and John stood accused by the Sandhedrin. They were told to "speak no more in That Name". Their answer given sums it all up neatly: "we are unable not to speak of the things which we have seen and heard". (Acts. 4) And this after they had received not just the warning and threats but also contempt.
It was said of John Knox "He feared God so much that he never feared the face of any man."
Martin Luther concluding his defence before the Church hierarchy stated "Here I stand. I can do no other." Another time when the papal envoy threatened Martin that in the end he would be deserted by all his supporters. "Where will you be then?" the envoy asked. "Then as now," Luther answered, "in the hands of God."
When Peter and John were once again among with their band of brothers, prayer was offered. In that we have our simple guidelines. They set before themselves the remembrance of their Lord and His triumph. They prayed for courage knowing full well their continued witness could mean martyrdom. And the result was the promise and comfort of the Spirit Himself.
H. G. Wells said: "The trouble with so many people is that the voice of their neighbours sounds louder in their ears than the voice of God."
Fear or courage? That would be the bottom line.
Once again fellow pilgrims, we have our challenge for This Day so head up, shoulders back....