a ministry of influence...

Influence is a powerful thing. As we look at the word of influence, we can see it as many things. Influence can be a bad thing. It can lead to good things. However, if we are trying to just squeak by in our Christian relationships by just influencing people, we are going to get nowhere in the world of ministry or the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

There have been many "influential" people in this world that have motivated major movements in the history of the earth. We have such "influential" people like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This man influenced an entire generation to change their views on the worth of human life. Many other men and women throughout history have done many great things to change the thinking and perspective of how people live their lives. My question is simple, was Jesus one of these influential people?

"Influence" comes from the Latin, "influere" which means "to flow into". Did Jesus simply "flow into" the lives of many people and change their perspective of life? I would like to submit that He did not.

Jesus walked among us, being fully God and fully human, to live and breathe amongst the people of earth. He came to bring a message of hope, love, and grace. Jesus brought to us a new life. He did not show us this by simply convincing a few people to change the world. He showed us His love by dieing and raising from the dead. Christ showed love and compassion to all. He offered us this love and compassion in a life that was not centered on the things of this world, but the things of Heaven.

Mark Batterson wrote in his blog earlier about identifying idols in out lives.
So how do you identify an idol? Here are four idol identifiers:

1) What consumes your thoughts? Your daydreams are idol clues. If it's something you think about more than God then it may be an idol.

2) What bad habits do you struggle with? Your addictions are idol clues. An idol is something you cannot control. It controls you.

3) What do you spend too much money on? Your spending habits are idol clues. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also!

4) What produces your strongest emotions? Your intense emotions are idol clues. If you want to identify an idol, all you have to do is identify your emotional attachments.

Identifying an idol takes a tremendous amount of soul searching. And you have to be brutally honest. But you cannot tear it down until you name it.

When we join in on the ministry of influence, we see the person of influence as idols in out lives. Look at these 4 steps Mark wrote about. Can we see how following those who have a ministry of influence are idols? Now do not go and send me emails or comments about the people who have changed history. I acknowledge what they did was great and how they did the things during their time period was just as great. But let's look at Jesus, who was the ultimate rebel of His time and how He did not live a life of influence, but a life of love and place-sharing.

When you have a relationship of influence, the point of the relationship is to move the person past the bond of you and that person. It is the means to an end. Having a place-sharing relationship means to stand in fully for the person. This does not mean to where the person takes no more responsibility for their lives, but in a manner that joins people in existence and invites them to share in ours.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor and a theologian who was arrested during the Nazi regime during WW2. During this time, Dietrich was sentenced to death at a concentration camp. The concentration camp was a few days journey from where he was sentenced to death. During the time of travel from Berlin to the concentration camp, Bonhoeffer befriended a Russian solider. The two became friends and while they were in the back of a truck for many hours, since the trip was a few days from Berlin, the solider began to teach Bonhoeffer Russian.

It came to be the night before they were going to die. All of the prisoners had figured it was too late for the Allied Forces to come in a save the day, so Bonhoeffer stood up and asked all the other prisoners to partake in worship and communion. As almost everyone agreed, Dietrich looked at his new friend, the Russian solider, whom refused to partake in the communion. He was an atheist and a communist. The Russian felt it would go against everything he knew and believed in. Dietrich sat down beside the Russian solider and said that he was not going to partake of it either. For if his friend would not take it and Bonhoeffer did; he would not only be denying his friend but he might have been denying God as well.

Can we see from this true story that having influence only leads past the bond, but to an end. Here we can see the Dietrich, being a pastor and theologian, sat with his new friend during the end of their lives. In the final hours, he did not deny him; he stood and sat there with him. Readers, my challenge to you and myself is to simply live beyond what we know. We must live for Christ, who has opened up that relationship for us. Christ has offered eternal life and His relationship with us and vice-versa is not the means to an end. For those who love and accept Christ and live for Him and be a disciple of Christ will live forever in eternity with Christ. Move past being influential and be in a position of place-sharing.


Penny said...

Interesting stuff. I think it's important to remember that there's an implicit responsibility in influence--and that those who are usually the most positive influencers understand this concept. Those who wish to be emulated or understood but deny their roles as models for others--these folks are typically those who represent idolatry or idol-related thinking (re: value on possessions, power, etc.). However, those who understand that their influence comes with a price tag--that they have a responsibility to those whom they influence (like Jesus, for example!, who has had an amazing influence over the world but also understood that he would have a unique responsibility for it)--those are people who truly make the world a better place. This is how one can easily tell if someone is worthy of notice--by their ownership of their actions and example.

Cool post, dude! Makes me think.

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