Summary: Sometimes Christians think the way to bring about change is power... but what we need is influence.
Title: The Power of Influence
Text: Matthew 5:13-16
Thesis: Sometimes Christians think the way to bring about change is power… but what we need is influence.
Power infers the ability to unilaterally produce an effect. Power suggests authority and control. A person in a position of power may make a ruling or issue a command and it happens.
Last Tuesday a Denver Post editorial writer ran a column, Caldwell: at Jeffco schools meeting, everything but the pitchforks. Apparently, former Jeffco Schools Superintendent, Cindy Stevenson, who was leaving her position early, has many supporters as well as many detractors. Caldwell reported, “It was inevitable that the majority elected to the board in November was going to get rid of Stevenson. And they have every right to install a chief executive who is on the same page with them philosophically. In any case, the new majority will get what they want now, and perhaps that is all that matters to them.” (Cindy Caldwell, Caldwell at Jeffco schools meeting: everything but the pitchforks, The Denver Post, 2/10/14)
That is the way power works. Power gets what it wants.
Influence on the other hand produces an effect without imposing force or exertion… it is more of a nudge than a shove. It is encouraging rather than demanding.
“Watch this and you will share this… “ (Clip from YouTube)
Our text today is about the influence of Christians in the world.
I. We are God’s influencers in the world. (Jesus said,”
• “You are the salt of the earth.” Matthew 5:13
• “You are the light of the world.” Matthew 5:L14
I am presently experiencing a bit of envy. My brother and sister-in-law are vacationing in the Turk Islands. I assumed the Turk Islands are someplace sunny but as to sunny where, I had no clue. So I Googled the Turk Islands and found that the Turk Islands are approximately 650 miles east south east of Miami. I learned that in the 1600s Bermudians sailed some 750 miles and settled the Turk Islands with slaves and freemen to begin a new salt trade. They built salt pans or salinas where they let in and evaporated salt water. Rakers then raked the residual salt into piles that were transported to trading ships. They say that 1/6th of the salt used in British North America prior to the Revolutionary War came from the Turks. At any rate, the salt trade continued from 1660 through 1960.
That salt was essential to life as a food preservative and as a seasoning.
I think it is safe to say that Jesus’ use of the descriptive word “salt” is intended in a positive way. Our saltiness is neither the insipid blandness of too little salt nor a cardiovascular disease inducing excessive saltiness.
A. “You are the salt of the earth.” Matthew 5:13
Salt is one of the 5 basic taste sensations: Salt. Sweet. Bitter. Sour. [And] Umami. (Umami is a loanword from the Japanese and refers to the savoriness or pleasure of a taste, i.e., mouthwatering.)
“Let your way of life be always full of mouthwatering grace seasoned with salt.” Colossians 4:6
Just as I think it is safe to say that Jesus’ use of the descriptive word “salt” is intended in a positive way… so also the use of the word “light” is intended to be understood in a positive way. Our light is neither a dim light nor a blinding flood light.
B. “You are the light or the world.” Matthew 5:14
Scripture often speaks of how we are called out of darkness into God’s light… which we believe to be a better way. While light does indeed reveal what is hidden in the darkness, light also shows the way through the darkness.
I was amused as I read the Crankshaft comic in the Denver Post a few days ago… apparently the producers of the History Channel contacted the Director of School Bus Drivers in the Crankshaft comic strip (which stars Ed Crankshaft as a grumpy old bus driver) asking them if they would like to star in an upcoming series called Ice Road School Bus Drivers. I mention the cartoon story line only to point out how imaginative the producers of the History Channel programming are… on Thursday evening I watched as two (real life) Appalachian Outlaws who were (being filmed while) poaching ginseng roots in the hills of West Virginia dived into a hole in the ground to escape their pursuers. Fortuitously they had remembered to wear their helmet lights because they found themselves crawling through a sub-terranean pathway that conveniently exited on the other side of the ridge. Without light they would have been frighteningly lost in the pitch black darkness of that Appalachian cave. When light permeates a dark place it is a good and pleasing thing.