I have a love hate relationship with testimonies. When they are good they are good but when they are bad they are REALLY bad. While wrestling with this week’s gospel text I am finding out answers to why I struggle with testimonies. This text is essentially two different testimonies wrapped into a handful of verses.
The first testimony is with Philip who is called by Christ with the common phrase, “Follow me.” That is the extent to the conversation but Philip does follow. Philip’s testimony on who he is called is regulated to those two words but they had to be a powerful moment for him because then he goes to Nathanael to tell him who he has found. (I like the fact that now Philip claims to have found Jesus when verse 43 tells us that Jesus found him…another sermon in there somewhere) Philip’s testimony profess his calling story to Nate. He tells him they have found the one that Moses and the Prophets talked about it. When Nate coins the phrase, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth”, Philip’s only rebuttal is “come and see.”
Nate’s testimony seamlessly comes out of that conversation when he meets Jesus for the first time. He walks up to Jesus with doubt that he is the Messiah but walks away following him. Jesus turns him by telling him where he got to know him. Jesus tells him, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” This blows Nate away and soon Jesus promises that he hasn’t seen anything yet. Just wait and see the glories that are in store for you.
These are both beautiful testimonies because of one reason, they all point to Christ first. I have sat in the pews before and listened to preachers, evangelists or lay people profess their testimonies but in the end it is only a twenty minute talk about themselves. Look how wonderful I am and how great my life is now. Epiphany is the season of professions of the God-Man in our midst. Testimonies are perfect for this time of year but they have to be done right. It is not about us, it is always first and foremost about God.
That is our plum line which we should judge all sermons, testimonies and talks about God. In the end where is the finger pointing. In the end we should be demonstrating what God has done in us and what God is doing through us.