Influence

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

“You are the light of [Christ to] the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognise and honour and] glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matt 5:13-16 AMP

In this day and age, everyone looks to the famous, the one with the most followers, the most brand-deals and advertisements, brands with the best reviews and products – this is what the world defines as “influence”. There are entire degrees on how to influence customers to buy products and to sell services (no hate to the marketing geniuses!) It’s an ever-revolving cycle of influencing and being influenced.

As a result, many of us walk through life with an air of selfish ambition and self-centred lifestyles without intending to. The worldly culture arounds us screams “self-love”, which, while good in intention, is slowly diverting our attention to our own selfish wants, cares, and desires, instead of looking to the desires of God’s heart, the only desires we need to be influenced by. I find comfort, freedom, and hope in the fact that God knows all, while I do not. Therefore, His desires and His Word clearly see the bigger picture, beyond our lives, a picture that is world-saving, all-encompassing, desiring for all to come to know salvation and live in godly freedom.

In Jesus’ walk on earth, He was never self-seeking. He gave, He forgave, He humbly received, He spoke truth without selfish motives, He sought the best in people of the time (the tax-collectors, prostitutes, rejections of the day). Jesus was a perfect example of who we are meant to be like. He was humble, became a servant (washing the feet of His disciples), He took the time to ‘re-fuel’ and pray, devoting Himself constantly to God’s bigger picture, to the desires of God’s heart, which He knew was to save all humanity. And yet, despite His efforts to walk in submissive humility to His Father, He was the most influential historical figure that has walked this earth. In fact, we are living today in the wake of His influence.

The beginning verse from Matthew somewhat accurately sums up the influence of a Christian’s walk. Our lives expand beyond the experience of our own personal conflicts, emotions, feelings, personalities – we were made to be a light, to be salt.

Apart from the obvious function of salt, being flavour-enhancing, Jesus was very strategic in using this terminology. Salt was also a means of preservation, of disinfecting, of nourishment, amongst other significant functions, all within a minuscule grain-sized mineral. So how can we be salt to a self-centred world? I believe that it involves the obvious, yet challenging task of following Jesus’ example. He was not only spreading the good news of salvation, but He did it in love, accepting those who felt unacceptable, and walking in absolute submission to the bigger plan of His Father. He preserved the heart of God in His own, He nourished, He disinfected. Yet, this concept sounds easier than it actually is.

As Christians we must make the conscious, humble decision to yield to God’s plan and purpose every single day. It involves praying prayers such as “Lord, break my heart for what breaks yours” and “Lord, help me to see them how you see them”.In order to be effective, and not be bland, tasteless salt, we need to be in tune and in step with the purpose that God has for us. And first and foremost, that purpose is to be a light to the world. In our actions, our words, our thoughts, our feelings, are we revealing a life yielded to God, or are we yielding to the influence of this world?

The overused quote of “our actions speak louder than words” carries great truth. Why else would Jesus instruct us to “let [our] light[s] shine before men in such a way that they may see [our] good deeds and moral excellence”?

When wanting to make an influence, let’s start with the simple step of surrendering our own wants and desires to God’s master plan, His purpose and truth, in prayer, and let’s walk in a way that would glorify God. We can ask God to help us watch our words, watch our thoughts and feelings, watch the way we treat others, consciously or subconsciously. We can ask Him to help us walk in a way that reflects Jesus’ humble life. In this way, we are transformed into a light, and a flavour-enhancing mineral that builds up, encourages, and speaks truth in love, uninfluenced by the ‘truths’ of the world we live in. Let’s fact-check every inspirational Instagram post and criticism against the true, living Word of God. Let us consciously make a decision to lean on the Holy Spirit daily, taking time to listen, to be still, and to be influenced by God’s truth.

By Mikaela Lloyd