Sparks of influence
You and I, if we are believers, are called, are being equipped, and have been sent to influence our world. We're all on a platform that defines the scope and dimensions of the segment of the world that we're supposed to affect. Some Christians are highly placed on visible stages where the potential impact is extensive. Most of us are in simpler places where our touch is more confined to a tighter circle of family, friends, work colleagues, school mates, or acquaintances. Nevertheless, at some juncture in our Christian experience we must reflect on the influence of our lives on the part of the world entrusted to our stewardship, whether far-reaching or compact. It's how our Lord envisioned using us to change the world.
Three profound biblical metaphors inform this mission, the mission of influence:
light: Jesus is the light of the world and he lives in each of us. We, therefore, are
supposed to "...let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good
works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). It is the
light of Christian influence that constantly guides others and life to the Father.
salt: Jesus explained that "You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its
taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except
to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet" (Matthew 5:13). There's a
brackish flavor we're supposed to bring to the world around us, the salt of the
Gospel. There's been much written about this salt. But, for me it's primary trait is
of creating thirst. So, we're supposed to live in such a way as to make people
thirsty for the Good News. Of course, the Holy Spirit inspires and completes that
assignment. We're just to be salt.
leaven: In Scripture leaven is most often used in a negative way, usually referring
to the insidious work of evil that so corrupts us humans. In one pericope,
however, Jesus explained "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman
took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened" (Matthew 13:33).
Here, leaven is a natural reference to in the influence of the Kingdom on the
people around us.
In addition to the metaphors, there are three specific means by which this influence is to affect our segment of the world in spite of it's dimensions---
1. The praxis of the Kingdom: this is the practice of Kingdom living that touches
our world. The Apostle Paul wrote, "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do
everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father
through him" (Colossians 3:17). The Kingdom is more than theoretical. It is the
way we live our lives. Peter also wrote, "Keep your conduct among the Gentiles
honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see
your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation" (1 Peter 2:12).
2. The proclamation of the Kingdom: in the Book of Acts, when the Holy Spirit
came upon the believers, "And when they had prayed, the place in which they
were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and continued to speak the word of God with boldness" (Acts 4:31). Let's not
justify ourselves too easily. We're supposed to live it, no doubt. But, we must
speak the truth of the Kingdom as well. It is an element of our influence.
3. The preparation for the Kingdom: The New Testament believers lived under
the promise of Christ's imminent return. They prepared themselves and the
people around them for the coming of the Kingdom and the rule of Christ.
One of the questions we're all dealing with right now is why there seems to be less spiritual influence in our culture today than in previous times. Right now Christians and evangelicals in particular are being thrown under the cultural bus. Everyone wants to know why his church is not influencing our world in a more dynamic and powerful way. Lately I've been convicted that this is the wrong question. The right question is why am I not influencing my world in a more convincing fashion?
So, that will be the question this week for me, and perhaps for both of my readers. In all the election fireworks, analysis of the spiritual landscape of our nation, and the many ills we're dealing with in this world my attention has shifted to so many other venues. God has impressed my heart with what I'm calling four sparks to ignite my personal influence. I'm asking for you to join me in praying that these four sparks, and many others I've overlooked or missed, will become central in this more personal and vital connection to the world around us.
They're sparks of influence I'm praying will ignite my personal sway over the platform he's given me.