Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Called to Influence

{Matthew 5:13-16; ESV}
“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.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”

Jesus, by using the metaphors of salt and light, called His followers to influence the world. We influence the world and impact the culture not by exercising political power, but through the way we live our lives. I would suggest to you that the reason the Church has lost her influence in the United States of America is because the people of God have not lived as the people of God. Instead we have lived life on the fence, taking what we liked from Christianity and what we liked from the world, and merging the two together. The result is that we have a sickly faith that influences no one.

Jesus warned us what would happen if we were not committed to being agents of influence in this world. Salt, Jesus said, that has lost its flavor is good for nothing. Therefore a church that is compromised with the world is good for nothing. In Revelation 3 Jesus tells the church family at Laodicea, a church that lost her ability to influence people, that He is going to spit them out of His mouth because they are lukewarm and good for nothing.

Likewise,we don't light a light and then cover it up, but we put the light in a place where it can shine for everyone to see. Too many American Christians don’t want to stand out, and so we hide, do our best to blend in with the culture around us. We watch the same TV shows and movies, listen to the same music, pursue the same goals, and have the same amount of debt. No wonder the Church has lost her influence in the world! We, who claim to follow Christ Jesus, are no different from the rest of the world.

If we are going to influence the world it isn’t going to happen because we get more involved in the politics of this world (We have tried that for the last thirty years, and what has it gotten us?), or by seeking to be more relevant by telling people what they want to hear. It is going to happen when the people of God finally live like the people of God, and in the process show a dying world living in darkness that there is a better way to live.

I want you to consider something Henry Blackaby wrote:
“But my heart cry is to say it is crucial that we hold ourselves accountable to a life of holiness—that if we walk righteously, there will come a response from God. Our lives will be a highway over which God shall come” (Holiness, p. 90)

The reality that the Church has lost her influence in our culture leaves me to conclude that we, the people of God, have not lived lives of holiness. In other words we have not been the salt of the earth or the light of the world.

If we are going to be agents of influence in this world, salt of the earth and light of the world, then it will begin by changing the way we live our lives. We need to limit our TV watching, to get out of debt, to intentionally serve people, to reorder our priorities. Remember: We can’t influence the world if we live just like the world. What our country needs are people who set themselves apart from the world and follow Jesus. By following Jesus and being guided by the Spirit we become agents of change in this world. That is the life that Jesus has called us to live.

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