Influence

2 Corinthians 5:20-21  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

The Characteristics Of An Ambassador

  1. An Ambassador Is A Citizen
  2. An Ambassador Serves His King
  3. An Ambassador Does Not Carry His Own Message
  4. An Ambassador Is Persuasive

Salt And Light

Matthew 5:13-16  Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.  (14)  Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.  (15)  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  (16)  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Salt is used to improve the flavor of food, and also as a preservative. People do not eat salt by itself, but rather add it to their food. Christians are the salt of the earth. Just as salt is not an influence on itself, but rather to the food to which it is added; we are not influencing ourselves, but rather the people around us to which the Lord has added us.

Light illuminates, makes manifest that which would otherwise be hidden, and drives back darkness. Light and dark cannot occupy the same space. Darkness is the absence of light; therefore, whenever light is introduced to darkness, the darkness is driven back to the edge of the influence of the light. The brighter the light, the greater its influence.

Thermometer Or Thermostat

Do you know the difference between a thermometer and a thermostat? A thermometer only reads the atmosphere, while a thermostat works to change it.

It’s not enough to complacently look at your world, your community, your workplace, or your family and say, “Yeah, that’s really bad.” We are called by God to engage our environment as change agents.    How about you? Why be a thermometer, only reading the atmosphere around you, when you can be a thermostat and work to influence positive change?   “For we are God’s workmanship…His thermostat!… created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

When we fail to obey God because of others’ opinions, we are effectively saying that we care more about pleasing men that we care about pleasing God.

Is The Church Sending The Wrong Message?

A recent study (2008) found that most unchurched people are willing to hear what Christians have to say about Christianity, even though most of them see the church as a place full of hypocrites.  The study was based on the responses of over 1400 unchurched people (those who say they have not attended any religious gathering or place of worship in excess of 6 months). According to the study,”A full 72 percent of the people interviewed said they think the church ‘is full of hypocrites…’ At the same time, however, 71 percent of the respondents said they believe Jesusmakes a positive difference in a person’s life’ and 78 percent said they would ‘be willing to listen’ to someone who wanted to share what they believed about Christianity.”  That number, according to the study, goes up to 89% among those 18-29 years old. “There will always be the stumbling block of the cross. Yet our study shows that many are tripping over the church before they hear the message of the cross.”*

Sowing And Reaping

Galatians 6:7-10  Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  (8)  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.  (9)  And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.  (10)  As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. 

Where you lead others is determined by who you follow. Those who actively follow Christ are leading others toward Christ. Those who follow after the things of the world are leading others away from Christ.

Wolf Bait

If we use wolf bait to draw wolves, they will come. Once in the church, they will begin to separate and devour the sheep. Heavenly food and worldly food taste different because they are different. Sheep eat grass, while wolves eat meat (ie. Sheep).

Things like music and worship matter because when a church takes a worldly approach to these things, they are putting out wolf bait, and inviting the wolves in amongst the sheep. This doesn’t win the wolves because they remain wolves.

The only way to win a wolf is to convert him/her into a sheep. Only God can make a sheep from a wolf (New Creature 2 Corinthians 5:17). It’s the Gospel that men need, not a concert. It’s the truth of God’s Word that will convert the wolf into a sheep. All other methods allow and encourage wolves to remain wolves.

Positive Verses Negative Influence

Influence is contagious. The serpent influenced Eve, who in turn, influenced Adam. Their sin was passed to all mankind. Eve’s influence on her husband is still being felt today.

Jesus influenced the twelve, who in turn, influenced thousands to repent and trust in Christ. These men gave their very lives for the cause of Christ, leaving a testimony that their faith was in God, who was able to keep their very souls from harm. The church was established and stands today on this very faith.

Positive Influence

  • Philip’s influence on the eunuch was a result of his knowledge of the Word of God.
  • As the first martyr of the Christian Church, Stephen’s influence drove many thousands to spread the Gospel to every nation because he faced death looking unto Jesus.
  • Paul’s influence on thousands was based on his obvious change of heart. He went from persecutor to persecuted, suffering many whippings, imprisonment,  and even being stoned for his preaching.
  • David’s influence over his mighty men and his kingdom was a result of his love, faithfulness, and loyalty to God and to others.
  • Elijah’s influence on Israel was a result of his faith, and his willingness to demonstrate that faith, even in the worst of conditions.
  • Daniel’s influence on the kingdom of Babylon and its people was due to his refusal to compromise his convictions, and because his prayers were obviously answered.

Negative Influence

  • Lot was influenced by the people of Sodom, instead of being a positive influence on them. He fit in, and he did not make even one convert. In fact, even his wife turned back after leaving Sodom.
  • Korah influenced 250 princes of Israel to rebel against Moses and Aaron, challenging God’s will, to their doom.
  • Delilah Influenced Samson through lust to reveal the secret of his strength, allowing himself to be trapped, bound, blinded, and mocked.
  • The Pharisees and Sadducees influenced Israel by misleading them through false doctrine and focus on rules rather than relationships.

Some of the illustrations used in this article were found at Illustration Exchange.

* Survey conducted by Lifeway Christian Stores in 2008

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