If you grew up in a Christian family and trusted in Christ at a young age, then you’ve probably been there. You’re in a Bible study or some other ministry gathering where testimonies are being shared, and you’re encouraged to hear how God has graciously drawn people to Himself in unexpected ways. Yet, after hearing about John being rescued from drug addiction, or the way Kelly, a former atheist, had her worldview turned upside-down during her junior year in college, you become less excited about sharing your own story. You’re not quite embarrassed, but you’re anticipating some eye-rolls and half-hearted smiles coming your way.
Who wants to hear about the kid who can’t remember not believing the truths of the gospel?
Many Christians who grew up in a Christian home and attended church regularly can’t remember a time when they didn’t believe the gospel. That’s not to say that they always obeyed God’s Word or that their lives were always strikingly different from their unbelieving friends. Nor does it deny that their understanding of the gospel needed some sharpening and correction through the years. Still, many of these people can’t remember consciously rebelling against God over a prolonged period. Maybe that’s you. You don’t have a past that includes sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. You never had a Damascus Road experience.
Misunderstandings About Testimonies
So you’re left wondering, “Why is my testimony so boring?”
If that’s you, then might I suggest that the problem is not your ho-hum testimony. Rather your problem is a failure to recognize some important aspects of the Bible’s teaching on conversion. Let me explain by identifying three potential misunderstandings. I hope this will be encouraging for those who feel as if their testimony is inadequate.
1. You may be underselling what happens in conversion.
When you read the Bible’s descriptions of conversion, you being to realize that there is no such thing as a boring testimony. Every conversion is an epic event, spiritually speaking. If you are a Christian, then there was a time when you were transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Christ (Colossians 1:13). You became a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). You went from being a child of wrath to being a child of God who will inherit eternal life (Ephesians 2:1–10).
The most amazing part of a testimony is not so much the outward, lifestyle changes that we can see. These are certainly evidence of God’s grace. What is most remarkable is that someone who was formerly an enemy of God is now considered His friend. And that’s true of every Christian, including the child who always got a star in Sunday School for learning her memory verse.
2. You may be underestimating the power of sin.
Scripture describes sin as a cruel and powerful slavemaster. From the time we are born, our inward desires are corrupted (Psalm 51:5). We are spiritually dead (Colossians 2:13). In light of that, it’s astounding that you never set out to openly defy God. It’s remarkable that you embraced the gospel at a young age. If you think you would have done those things apart from the grace of God, then you may have too high of an opinion of yourself.
Have you ever stopped to consider what you were saved from? There’s no telling what your pride and anger and jealousy and sexual desires would have led to without the instructions and warnings of God’s Word. Remember, Satan is much stronger than you are. You can only stand against him by putting on Christ’s armor (Ephesians 6:10–20).
3. You are discounting some of the primary means God uses in salvation.
Where did we get the idea that all conversions must be preceded by an earthquake or some other spectacular event? We should expect great things from God. But that doesn’t mean the conversion of the Philippian jailer is the norm. Do you know anyone in your church who was prevented from taking his life by an eleventh-hour gospel presentation from the apostle Paul (Acts 16:25–34)? God can and does work that way, occasionally. There are more common channels that he uses to carry out his saving work.
God has designed the family to be a regular conduit of his grace. This is why Scripture gives instructions for how the faith is to be passed on through households (Ephesians 6:1–4; Colossians 3:20–21; Deuteronomy 6:4–9; Psalms 78:1–8; Proverbs 6:20–35). Likewise, churches are intended to be places where children hear the gospel. They can learn what it means to follow Jesus at a young age. Paul even addresses children directly. He expects them to respond with faith and obedience (Ephesians 6:1–3). Growing up in a believing family or a faithful church isn’t an unfortunate part of your testimony. It’s a sign of God’s grace to you.
Consider: Out of the multiplied millions who have little or no access to the gospel today, you were born in a place where you could regularly hear the gospel. Better yet, you were placed in a family and a church, or at least around friends, who wanted to pass that saving message along to you. Before you had done anything good or bad, God chose to put you in the path of his infinite mercy. So why talk about your testimony as if you got the short end of the stick?
If you are trusting in Christ as your Savior, then stop yearning for a more “exciting” testimony. Instead, be encouraged by the years and decades of God’s grace that have been poured out on you. And when it comes time for you to share, remember: there is no such thing as a boring testimony.
As further evidence that God expects the gospel to be passed along through families, note that the children of elders must be “believers” (Titus 1:6) and “submissive” (1 Timothy 3:4). Regardless of whether Paul is saying that an elder’s children must be converted, the general point stands: the godly instruction and example of parents should affect their children. There are, of course, exceptions, but Paul is stating what is normally the case.