Each of us has a sphere of influence — those we respect and listen to more than the general public. We each have a sphere of influence also that includes people who we interact with and who respect our way of viewing things. That can work to our advantage or good, but it can also work in a negative way if you are being influenced (and in turn influencing others) who are misinformed or deceived.
Although most of us do not desire to influence people in a wrong way, nor do we try to shut our eyes to the facts, it is becoming more and more difficult to find reliable sources of information that do not have a hidden (or not so hidden) agenda. From my observations, the small minority of people that really do have an evil, radical agenda are becoming bolder and unashamedly intimidating. However, there are enough people all across this country who would respond properly, for the good of the whole, should they be told the facts and the truth.
We are in a “war” that is not being fought with guns and bullets, generally speaking; nevertheless it is just as deadly. The “war of words” has been greatly weaponized by the addition of widespread social media. I know that I rely on the information I have access to on my phone or computer to help keep me informed in many different areas. But I hear “experts” or so-called experts giving their opinions on a particular area they are supposed to be knowledgeable about, and then hear others with similar qualifications state the exact opposite. It can be very confusing sometimes.
The virus pandemic is a perfect example. Because I personally have chosen not to listen to a great amount of daily news from our regular media sources, I am probably less influenced by the confusion and fear that has gripped so much of our country. The sources I do listen to still report the seriousness of this awful problem plaguing much of our civilized world, but bring more hope (drugs that are working well) and perspective (number of actually cases/deaths compared to other deadly strains of flu). This has caused me to continue to be more careful than I used to be every winter, but has not caused me to become fearful and to totally withdraw from family and friends who feel the same way I do. I am so grieved every time I hear about a very sick loved one, with some of them dying without the normal support of family and friends, suffering and dying alone. I think all of us have been touched by this reality in one way or another.
I realize that you may not agree with me on this example above, but I am trying to illustrate a bigger picture. We are all influenced by other people’s opinions and beliefs but some of us have just not done our own inquiries to find out what other opinions and beliefs are even out there. I have listened to quite a few different medical people, including some I know personally, before coming to my own conclusions concerning this virus.
Someone asked me the other day what was my personal belief about the rapture of the church. I laughed because over the course of 50-plus years I have probably leaned toward each of the classic theories or beliefs! The difference for me now is that I am no longer interested in “proving” anything along this doctrinal line. As a new believer, I believed everything I was taught by those in places of leadership and influence in my life. I had no reason to doubt them.
As time went on and I became more familiar with the Bible myself, read numerous authors who had a different interpretation of some of the classic scriptures I had used to “prove” my beliefs, I became less and less adamant about this doctrine. I try to stay in a place of readiness in my heart and life so that if Jesus came back today, I would get to go be with Him! But I also read in His Word that I am to “occupy until He comes.” There are so many opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives if you really want to.
John the Baptist became offended at Jesus toward the end of his own life, while he was in jail. He expected, like most of Israel, a military intervention and take-over by our Commander-in-Chief.
When Jesus told John’s disciples to tell John what they were observing Jesus doing — healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead — John could not see that the Lamb of God that he had personally recognized at Jesus’ baptism, had to come first. He came the first time as the ultimate and final Lamb to lay His life down for the forgiveness of our sins. But He is coming back a second time as the Lion of Judah, the Captain of the Lord’s Host, with fire in His eyes and a flaming sword to execute judgment on His enemies. So I also live like I am going to be here for the long haul — until I get old enough to die! I want to make every day count by influencing and affecting the lives of those in my sphere of influence in a positive way, living as a believer who wants everyone to come to know the love that our God has for them is my greatest desire and affects all that I do and say.
We are all influencers! Every one of us affects the life of others that we live with, work with and worship with. The question is — are we influencing them in a way that will benefit them or in a way that could harm them? Just watch a little child. They mimic everything an older sibling or a parent does. A little girl makes a total mess when she gets into her mom’s makeup and tries to apply it to her own face! A little boy embarrasses his mom or dad when he uses some words that he really doesn’t fully understand what they mean — especially in front of the preacher! They are deeply impressionable and influenced by what they see and hear in their little world.
Let us align ourselves with those whose values and lifestyle reflects what we want for ourselves. May we be cautious to believe everything we hear or read or see from those who we really don’t know and therefore do not know their motives behind what they believe or are promoting. Be an influence for the Kingdom of God and be influenced by those who are living from that perspective.