We live in a society where Christianity is no longer the common denominator or a dignified quality, but rather it is shamed and ridiculed. It is a society that promotes an intolerance toward Christians who will stand valiantly in opposition to those who openly rebel against our God. It is a society where the influence of the Bible and its principles are all but forgotten. It is in this dark and sinful world that we have been called to have influence for God and His Son’s kingdom. We have been called to stand even in the moments of the harshest persecution, verbally or physically, because that is what our Lord has already endured for us (1 Peter 2:21-25). Therefore, how are we doing with influencing those around us? Do our neighbors know we are Christians, we attended weekly worship and Bible studies, we love them, and we will do whatever it takes to help them become saved? How strong is our influence?
Every Christian has received the same commandment from Jesus, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). It is the principle found in this verse that we have been called to have influence upon those with whom we interact on a daily basis. We have been chosen by God through Jesus to go into a sin-sick world with the good news of His love, grace, and mercy. We have been given the responsibility to love others as God first loved us; however, with every day that passes our influence wanes into the shadows and it becomes apparent either we have no influence upon the world, or the world has more influence upon us.
Paul admonished the Romans, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). Peter told the exiles in his first epistle, “…to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God” (4:2). It is a timeless principle found in nearly every book of the New Testament – We must live life contrary to the rest of this world, and thereby we must influence others to do the same.
When those of the world fall into the mire of sin and drown in the depths of their own desires, we have been called to walk on a higher plane. We have been chosen to live for a greater tomorrow. We have been given God’s grace and richest blessings through Jesus to rise above our sins and dwell in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3). It is only when our lives are walking down the straight and narrow that we will have the greatest influence for change upon those around us. It is only when we stop desiring to be like the world and become more like our Savior, our friends will begin to see the dramatic difference between these two lifestyles (1 Peter 4:4). This world is like quicksand where you will either be saved by God’s grace, or slowly suffocated by the pressures of being accepted by the world.
The world of Jesus’ day seems to be eerily familiar with the one where we now live. Jesus said concerning His times, “This is the judgement, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). If the sinfulness of His time did not stop Him from influencing others then we are not excused in the 21st century. Even the influence of His disciples upon their world is evident by their enemies statement, “These men who have upset the world have come here also” (Acts 17:6). We are then left without excuse, but with the greatest calling given to mankind, “Go therefore and make disciples…” (Matthew 28:19). Let us then make the charge to live a life of influence so that souls can be saved and added to His kingdom.