Are you influencing the world or is the world influencing you? I believe that most us can answer yes to the first question, but how about the second one? How much impact can you have on the area that you live in? Can an entire city become transformed by a single righteous man?
Proverbs 11:11 tells us that “through the blessing of a righteous man a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.” We all have a part to play when it comes to making a difference in our community and the lives of those around us. We are all shifting the atmosphere in one direction or another. In order for us to shift the atmosphere in a positive direction, I would like to offer 5 things to remember when influencing positive change:
- You are Righteous in God’s eyes once you have been “born again”
Paul wrote to the Galatians “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” Father God sees Jesus when He looks at us. He sees a finished work and Jesus’ righteousness, not our own. I believe that when we are in right standing (righteousness) before God that He will not only pour out His favor and blessing upon us, but also on those who are in close proximity to us. Maybe that is unsaved family members living in your household or maybe it is a group of people on a plane or bus that you are on. They are all blessed just because you are there, and the favor of God is upon your life. We know from Genesis chapter 18 that Abram pleaded with God for the city of Sodom. God answered Abram in verse 32 saying that He would not destroy the city on account of just ten righteous men. As I look at America and the division that has taken root in this country I am reminded that there are many more than ten righteous people who love the Lord in this country. There are many people every day who serve God and walk in love as we all are commanded to do. They are all favored by God and His blessing is on those around them. God also sees you as righteous and will bless those who are close enough to you to get some of the overflow of His goodness in your life.
- Guard your heart and mind in Jesus
Do not allow yourself to become distracted by the negative. If the enemy of your soul can get your focus, then it becomes easier for you to entertain or partner with a divisive spiritual climate. Though there is a great deal of focus placed on turmoil, there are many good things happening every day all around us. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, anything that is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things and The God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8
It is too easy to focus on the polarizing issues of the day and either resign to a hope-deferred mindset or engage those who do not agree with you in a combative mindset. In America the political spirit has many people (even many Christians) taking sides and opposing those who do not agree with them. The recent onslaught of political ads during the election season was an overwhelming barrage of mud-slinging that produced more of “putting down” the opponent than promoting a candidate’s actual agenda. People are quick to side with those who hold similar views and throw their Christian beliefs aside when viewing the opposition to their political affiliation. Now having said that, I am about to throw some real gas on the fire. There is a racial and social divide in America as well. I am sensitive to the fact that there is no doubt the presence of social injustice at work in this country. However, we see all too often where the fires of divisiveness are being stoked by what is shown on TV, talked about on radio, or read about in the news. I see protests for racial, social, and gender equality happening to raise awareness for a cause. In some cases, it inflames the passion of those who do not agree with this form of protest to the point that you wouldn’t even know that they were Christians by reading their posts on social media. The fact that I am even writing this has different people responding differently internally based on their view of what is “right or wrong” in their own eyes. Guard your hearts and minds, beloved. Do not get distracted or engage the trap to pin us against one another.
- Have a heart for Reconciliation
“God has reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” 1 Corinthians 5:18
We do not need to land on one side or another when it comes to public opinion. Extend grace toward those who do not agree with your views, just as God has extended undeserved grace to you. Jesus taught about this in Matthew 18:21-35. When we make the conscience decision to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, we are giving up our right to voice an opinion on who is right and who is wrong. Doing so would be us operating out of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Jesus bled, died, and rose again so that we wouldn’t have to live out of that tree. Instead of partnering with the divisive spirit that is working towards tearing people apart, Christians should be rising above political, cultural, and social differences to walk in unity with those who might think differently than them. This does not mean that you must agree with those who oppose your views. There are certainly some non-negotiables to the faith that cannot be ignored. However, Christians should absolutely be motivated by love and not by being “right” concerning their view on a matter. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation, not the ministry of tearing one another down.
Being right or wrong doesn’t make you any more or less powerful of a person but walking in unity with others will always release power. In Genesis 11:6 God Himself says “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this [building the Tower of Babel], then nothing they plan will be impossible for them.” Unity is key to changing the atmosphere in your community. It works both in positive and negative influence.
- Walk in a Mindset of Hope
Proverbs 13:12 says that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” Why would you ever want to agree with the hopelessness that you see in the evening news cycle? Stand on the promises of God and remind yourself that God is not capable of lying. Christians should be a company of people who live their lives longing for the promises of God to be fulfilled. Now, the promises of God are a whole other subject that can be discussed at a different time. But you should know what God’s promises are, and you should celebrate when you see them being fulfilled. The second half of Proverb 13:12 says “but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Living out of this tree is the gift of God when we make Jesus our Lord and Savior. Believe for the greater outcome and see the best in others. Learn to view others through the lens that God sees them through. This may be difficult at first, but it is key to being an agent of change and walking in a mindset of hope.
- Focus on the one in front of you
So, can one righteous person transform an entire city? I don’t know, but what I do know is that we can all carry personal revival in our hearts. If you have ever been around someone who carries a faith for revival you would agree with me that what they carry is contagious. One person can influence one person and so on. When you begin to believe for something together with others in agreement, there is power released in the spirit. Influence those who are in your sphere of influence and God will grow that sphere.
Remember that you are righteous in God’s eyes. Guard your heart so not to be caught up in the things of this world that entice and distract you from your purpose. Walk with a heart of reconciliation and a mindset of hope, seeing the best in others. Be a positive influence on those who God has placed around you and He will cause a “ripple effect”. Being a difference maker starts with a single person who is willing to make a difference. Nothing is impossible for God so imagine how we can collectively transform our cities by coming together in this common purpose. Look around; those around you are already being blessed.