Thursday, June 02 2011
A Hostile Witness
In a court of law, any witness called to testify for the opposing party is technically considered to be a ‘hostile witness’. In other words, someone who testifies against you is a ‘hostile witness ‘. Therefore, it is presumed that all witnesses called to testify by the opposing party will be testifying in such a manner. However, on rare occasions, unbeknownst to the attorneys and otherwise, a witness who is called to testify changes their story and turns against the very person (or persons) that they were called to support. At that moment of realization, the attorney is to declare the individual as a ‘hostile witness’ to the judge. Thus, the attorney is allowed to use leading questions, as if cross-examining the witness, which they otherwise could not use with a confirming witness.
To put it simply – a hostile witness turns against you in the middle of the trial.
A June 18, 2004, Fox News poll of Americans revealed that fully 92% say they believe in God. Another poll by the Washington Post dated June 24, 2008, gave precisely the same statistic of 92% ‘believers’.
This would leave a grand question of why there is so much evidential evil and antagonism towards Christians, the church, the Bible, and any associated Christian holidays or traditions in the public sector. However, that subject is for another article. It is painfully obvious that one's definition of God is as fickle as ‘what's for dinner tonight’ in America. But the subject matter of this article is primarily concerned with the individuals who declare a commitment and covenant to Jesus Christ as Lord, as derived from the Holy Scriptures of the Bible.
Consider the vast variations of biblical interpretations and applications in mainline denominations alone. I'm not referring to the hairsplitting arguments either – I am making reference to serious imperatives that are nonnegotiable within the Scriptures. Doctrines are being debated in the contemporary church that would have never been heard 50 years ago. A simplest example is the controversy over the acceptance of homosexual relationships within the church. No Scripture supports this lifestyle, but in fact, speaks of it as an abomination before the Lord and the causal action when He ‘pulls away’ from sinners and allows them to suffer their own devices (Romans 1: 26ff). For example, at 1:44 PM (PT), July 15, 2009, in Anaheim, California, the Episcopal Church approved a resolution to ordain homosexual bishops. Ask any 80-year-old Episcopalian (who was raised in the church) if they ever thought they would see the day that this would occur.
These are not simply traditions that have been challenged, but direct affronts to the word of God. And a while I could pursue several angles and explain culturally how this has come about and an analysis of where it will probably go from here, the topic at hand is more specifically to do with us as individuals and our martuvrion (marturion - witness).
The word martuvrion -‘marturion’ is where we get our English word martyr While we think of this as someone who has lost their life for certain cause, its roots have more to do with the testimony of a person (than loss of life). In other words, it has to do with what you say. Those who bore a conviction so deep that their testimony cost them their lives inherited the title ‘martyr’ from those recording their history. But in the eyes of Christians, the word/action of a person inherently demands more meaning and importance than one's death because the heartbeat is not the summation of our eternity. This is monumentally important in light of Matthew 10:32, where Jesus said, “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.”
Contemporary Christians have a tendency to think that blasphemy is strictly a matter of the tongue, (i.e. speaking a word of disbelief against God). However, the vast majority of examples given in Scripture that relate themselves to blasphemy are to do with the actions of God’s people (cf. Numbers 15:30; Jeremiah 4:1, 2; Ezekiel 20:26, 27; Romans 2:24;). Given that they have made an affirmative statement of their commitment to the Lord, people then reveal their true heart by demonstrating their testimony in the consistency (or lack) of their actions. To attempt an alignment with the initial illustration, it is as if the people told the lawyers representing the case of their assenting testimony, yet during the trial, they ‘about-face’ and speak (through their actions) against the very One whom they reported to support.
While technically the world has no authority for judgment concerning our lives, they can be illustrated as a group of jurors that we are attempting to convince of the truth with our testimonies. The lawyer in this case is our representative, Jesus Christ. Ironically, He is the very one we are attempting to convince the jurors of His Lordship. However, when our daily lives are inconsistent with our testimony, it is as if we have changed our witness while on the stand and spoken against Christ. I can hear the exchange – So you believe in Jesus Christ as the true son of God? Well, yes, of course. Therefore you believe that His word is the truth and the will of your God? Correct, yes. Then why do you disagree and oppose with what He says in the passage of __________? Uh, what makes you think I disagree with that? The fact that you give your time, effort, energy, votes, and opinions to directly disagreeing with it- that's what. Well, I just think that it has more than one meaning for people. So you think the meaning is derived from what people think? I thought you just said that you believe that His word is the truth. You obviously don't know what you actually believe in do you? I guess that's why they call it ‘the hot seat’.
God states in the preceding passage given in Ezekiel that the Israelites have “blasphemed Me by acting treacherously against Me.” In other words, those who call themselves ‘Christian' (their testimony/witness) become hostile witnesses when they directly go against His will/word.
The word of God is not an option. His will is not debatable. Because He is the epitome and source of all truth, it matters not if any or all agree or disagree with Him. Truth remains regardless. And the Lord has chosen to convey His truths to us through the demonstration of His word, the Holy Scriptures.
Therefore, as Christians, we must never find ourselves in the position of becoming hostile witnesses to the Lord by denying or contradicting His word. Remember, when Jesus said, “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven,” proves that our confession includes our alignment with His word, as well as a life that literally demonstrates our daily testimony.
A faithful, trustworthy witness – that is your calling.
Keep the Faith.