Under the Influence

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Pretend for a minute that you are a brainiac and have just discovered the cure for cancer. No doubt about it – you nailed it. So now, do you donate this priceless information or charge an exorbitant fee? Or, let’s pretend for a sec that you are a genius who has worked relentlessly on a car that runs only on water, and….you did it. It’s a miracle! So, how do you share this world-changing knowledge? And what’s your price tag? Or, do you behave like Martin Shkreli, the CEO of an American drug company who fitly earned the nickname “most hated man in America?” After buying the rights to a drug used to treat those with weakened immune systems, Martin jacked up the price of the drug by 5,000% – it went from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill. What a great guy. Not!

Sharing goods and/or information can be tricky for sure. We live in a society where we are relentlessly bombarded with a combination of visuals, sound, celebrities, action, and famous people, all trying to influence how we think. Buying Calvin Klein jeans will make you sexy; if you buy Big Red gum, you get to “kiss a little longer,” and if you purchase a Verizon phone, you will always be close to your family. My favorite “roll your eyes” commercial is the bikini-clad celebrity washing a car while selling you a hamburger. But think about it – if these influencers didn’t work, they wouldn’t spend billions each year in advertising, pushing everything from foods, medicines, cars, pet food, bathtubs, toys, insurance, mattresses, etc. The list is endless.

So what’s my point with all this? Here it is: if it’s acceptable for businesses to constantly blitz people with advertising for temporal products, why in the world wouldn’t Christ-followers want to use their influence for good – turning people away from sin, violence, and oppression, and most of all, to godliness?! Romans 12:2 tells us to “Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you.” Another translation put it this way, “Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image.” I mean, think about it – it’s really a constant tug-of-war between the temporal and the eternal. Just be sure to grab your end of the rope and pull.

Christianity has a long history of influence in the affairs of men on this incredible planet of ours, as we can read in the book – What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? “Christians, for distinctively Christian motives, have vastly influenced western culture in such areas as help for the poor, the teaching of literacy, education for all, political freedom, economic freedom, science, medicine, the family, the arts, and the sanctity of life.”

This is why so many Christ-followers line up behind that great verse in Romans 1:16: “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.” To be sure, delivered in many different ways, we will be the only Bible many unbelievers will ever read. And what is the cost of a soul? It’s priceless! As believers, we should be doing everything within our sphere of influence to show people the kingdom of God.

Amy Carmichael made an extremely profound observation back in her day (1867-1951), which is worth a visit: “Satan is so much more in earnest than we are – he buys up the opportunity while we are wondering how much it will cost.” Yikes! Could that be true? I sure hope not.

There was once a Mercedes Benz commercial showing their car colliding with a cement wall during a safety test. Someone then asks the company spokesman why they never enforced their patent on the Mercedes Benz energy-absorbing car body, a design copied by many other companies because of its obvious success. He replies matter-of-factly, “Because some things in life are too important not to share.”

That is exactly how Christians should feel about sharing the good news of the gospel of Jesus – some things in life are just too important not to share!! I haven’t discovered a cure for cancer, nor have I engineered a car that runs solely on water, but I do know the “Truth and the Way” to eternal life for souls living on this earth, and like Jim Elliot, the missionary-martyr who lost his life in the late 1950’s said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose!”

Bob and Susan Beckett pastor The Dwelling Place City Church at 27100 Girard Street in Hemet, CA. For more information, you can visit them at DPCityChurch.org

Susan Beckett • Dewlling Place City Church

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