In the little town where I currently reside (most of the time), it is common to see street side vendors and their hand painted signs advertising “Fried Crabs.” While one or two have a food truck of sorts – old converted vans, others have a folding card table dressed with a vinyl cloth and accented with an electric deep fryer and all sorts of odd plastic containers. One bears some kind of cornmeal mixture while others contain spices and sometimes mixtures of liquid ingredients. I’ve never dared ask exactly what. There is, too, the old ice chest which holds the crabs.
There are always small gatherings of people when I pass. Some standing. Some finding a seat on an array of odd furnishings – old metal folding chairs, worn wooden stool chairs and, the one that always makes me smile, the discarded seats from cars and buses. While some customers grab their fried crabs and go, others sit, chat, swat flies and swap stories as they eat their crabs.
I’ve only viewed these vendors from what I’ve deemed a reasonable distance. I’ve never tasted their wares and have no desire to. Why? I eat with my eyes first, and these sites are less than appealing to me. I cannot get past the looks of the ice chests – blackened and smudged exteriors, the plastic containers – yellowed and stained and sometimes the vendors themselves – greasy aprons and unkempt hair. I have looked for the health department rating certificates, but have yet to spot one. I’m thinking there are none.
So, I take a pass. Again, I eat with my eyes first.
Don’t we all? Well, at least most.
Appearances are important.
Given the choice of a bright, shiny, well lit diner or a dimly lit fast food restaurant surrounded by a littered parking lot, most would choose the diner. Given the choice of drinking a tall glass of clear, cool water or taking a swig of water from a chipped cup with remains of a previous meal encrusted around the rim, most would choose the glass.
Our sensory systems – taste, smell, vision, auditory and touch – are intertwined. Research shows that our vision heavily influences our tasting, smelling and even our thinking.
First impressions are powerful. In a matter of seconds we form impressions. It is our human nature to quickly evaluate and move on – I will eat that. I won’t eat that. I will buy that. I won’t buy that. I will like this person. I won’t like this person. Good? Bad? Right? Wrong? I cannot say unequivocally, but I can tell you it is how it is.
It is how we are.
Which makes me think again about the teachings in Isaiah 43:10 (ESV) – “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen…”
Not just those who travel to foreign lands or those who go door-to-door or those who engage in street evangelism – all Christians are witnesses. Everyday, everywhere, all the time we are the Lord’s witnesses.
Many think of witnessing as something you do. We equate it with certain acts and behaviors like passing out tracts, sharing testimonies during street revivals, ringing doorbells or praying the sinner’s prayer with someone after sharing an outline of faith.
But the truth is that we are witnesses all the time. And note that Acts 1:8 says, “You shall be witnesses…” not You shall do witnessing.
So like it or not, you are a witness.
What kind of witness are you?
I once heard a minister say, “Your witness is only as good as your personal relationship with Jesus and the extent to which you submit to the power of His Holy Spirit allowing Him to work in and through you.”
What does it look like you are selling? When people see you, are they drawn to Christ or do they turn the other way?
People are watching. We are making impressions, and they are evaluating. What kind of witness are you?
THIS WEEK reflect on your witness. How are you presenting God’s truth? Remembering that we eat with our eyes, consider first your appearance – not just your dress or hairstyle, but how you carry yourself, your speech and your actions because, indeed, people will struggle to hear what you say when they are focused on watching what you are doing. What might you need to change? Is there something you need to stop doing (gossiping, telling off color jokes, lying, hanging out with a certain crowd…). Is there something you need to begin doing (speaking truth in love, being on time for work, being more quiet, spending more time alone or with a different crowd…). Pray that God’s Holy Spirit will whisper to you revealing actions you need to take to strengthen your witness. Pray that the Holy Spirit opens your ears and your heart to hear, receive and act swiftly upon what He tells you.