We can't live off of someone else's faith. That is the weakness of the Church, we either put too much emphasis on the corporate experience or not enough. We must always keep in mind that we are an individual unit within the context of the whole. As individuals we are responsible for our own spiritual health and fervor. We cannot exist within the whole unless we have our own relationship with the Head. We all need to know and have experienced Jesus for ourselves, not live off the pastor's experience, or Joe's or our parents.
There is an incident in Scripture where Jesus had an encounter with a woman at a well. In this conversation Jesus revealed the woman's sin and offered her salvation. The fact that he had knowledge of her situation gave him legitimacy in her eyes and she marveled at him. Then she did what comes natural to anyone who first encounters Jesus, she ran and told everyone she knew about him. Then the whole town came out to see what she was talking about. Evangelism 101.
Now let's look at what the Scripture says:
And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” (John 4:39)
That's always encouraging when people believe because of your testimony. But some of these people did not leave it there. They wanted more:
So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word. (John 4:40-41)
Even better, they have encountered Jesus and received the Good News he preached. That is where we want to get people, believing because of their relationship with Jesus not just because of our testimony. Our testimony is great but it only opens the door to a wonderful relationship with Jesus. Look at what they said to the woman:
Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.” (John 4:42)
Bingo! This is what we need everyone to experience, their own revelation of Jesus Christ. If people try to live off of my testimony they may last for a bit but eventually it will fade. They will be assailed on every side and eventually overcome because there was nothing to sustain or protect them. But when people encounter Jesus for themselves, they experience daily renewal in that relationship.
It is similar to the saying about teaching a man to fish as opposed to simply giving him a fish. We can simply give our testimony which is a good beginning place and satisfies the need short term, but when they encounter Jesus they have everything they need for all eternity. Let's encourage each other to go higher, deeper and wider with Jesus until we have attained the full measure. There is so much more that we have not even begun to understand about him, but one thing we know, "he loves us and gave himself for us".