Carl met Jesus in prison. Sarah collided with Christ at a séance. Samir’s parents were missionaries. Brie’s folks were druggies. John was a dealer. Mary had been abused. And Ron was divorced. Twice.
But I think I was born somewhere between a pulpit and a baptismal. The doctors must have sung a chorus of from a hymnbook, slapped a “hello my name is” sticker on my chest and stained-glass lenses on my face, then sent me to church with a prescription for “Fellowship.”
Suffice it to say, I don’t get asked to share my testimony in Sunday School or at Men’s Breakfasts. But you bet your tut-tutting-tookus that innumerable church-folk have reminded me that my story is “SPECIAL.”
I think I just threw up a little.
Ugh. It makes one want to mug a granny. Or walk into a gas-station with a bag over one’s hand. All just to make one feel like one’s testimony is just a little more “Carnal” and a little less “Special” - A.K.A “Generic.” One is tired of the Testimony Wars.
... Let me give you a key to rank YOUR testimony. Ready? Okay.
COMMONER – Jesus loves your story and sometimes that makes you feel nice. But at the end of the day you know that your story is just like 99% of everyone else’s. Bah. Whatevs.
AIN'T NO SAINT – Your story is still in process. You’re just trying to make it to tomorrow without committing one of the Seven-Deadly-Sins. People are rooting for you and most weeks that’s enough, but from time-to-time it’s just not. Ummm… little grace, please?
A LITTLE-LESS-COMMONER – You’ve got a relatively uneventful story, but you’ve done a thing or two for Jesus, acquired a degree in ministry, and/ or married a nice Christian man/ woman. Equally yoked and equally stoked for Jesus.
CHURCH HEART-THROB – Your story isn’t that exciting but people think it must be because you didn’t grow up watching Veggie Tales or going to bed while it was still light out. You play in the worship team or you’re a Christian with style. Your Instagram is polished. #fleek.
RADICAL – This is directly related to the cumulative number of visible tattoos you have and the number of ministries you’re now a part of leading. Four or more? Welcome to the club.
SOJOURNER – You had no reason to do what you did. Mom and Dad loved you and loved Jesus. No matter, you ran hard for a while but now Jesus has got you gripped and church isn’t that bad either.
TRAILBLAZER – You’re a first generation Christian and you’ve got that first-gen passion. You talk about Jesus like He’s real because, after all, He is. Next stop, all-you-can-eat Bible study.
HIGH CLERIC – Your story is saturated with intellectualism. Ex-Athiest? Ex-Agnostic? Ex-Anything-Else? Now you’re reasoning your way through big theology books and making up for lost time.
CONQUEROR – Your story centers around a deep traumatic event or serious disability. You wish it didn’t, but you have moved past the trauma and have found a profound way to bless others. The fact is that your story isn’t your story without the pain and people know you by it.
SUPER-SAINT – You are the renowned pendulum that swung from a drunken stupor in a dark alleyway and straight into a mega-ministry. Your story displays traits from one or more of the higher-level testimony grades. Rehab to Redeemed, baby! You got dunked in that Holy Ghost Fire and if you don’t want to write your story, someone else will.
But whether your story packs power or lacks power in human terms is irrelevant. Your story is as unique as your fingerprint, rife with a do-or-die kind of peril, and full of the faithfulness of a God that just won’t quit. God has given you a story to share. A story that can bring dead places to life whether or not you think it can. But – IT’S NOT YOUR STORY.
This is Christ’s story… THE Story.
He’s gathering lost kids from all corners of the earth and they’re coming from out of the woodwork. From street corners and seminaries. From drug houses and “christian” homes. From a place of pain into a place of peace. From a place of loss into a place of light. From a place of self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-reliance, self-admiration, and into a place of self-abasement where it’s all about Jesus.
Sometimes you go to a far off country and Christ brings you back home. And sometimes you’re born wearing stained-glass lenses. But our boast is Christ. He’s not joining our story; we’re joining HIS story. And we don’t need to tell Him how to write this thing. He’s got it.
“I will not boast in anything. No wealth, no power, no wisdom, [no testimony]. But I will boast in Jesus Christ. His death and resurrection.”