As a Christian how much influence do you have? Do your friends and family consider your opinions? Are you able, with the help of the Holy Spirit, able to change people’s views and therefore, alter the rest of their lives?
Do Christians as a whole have any influence on society? If we do is it positive or negative?
From colonial days through the 19th century America had respect for the Bible and the people who claimed to follow it. When a minister spoke, inside or outside of the pulpit, their words were considered truth and respected. Even the town drunk would sit up and listen when a preacher started quoting from the Good Book. Today, the portrayal of Christians in society is often like we are idiots; disconnected from reality. This is a far cry from the respect giving in a bygone era. Preaching on a street corner, common back in the day is unheard of now and if done would be accompanied by possible jail time or at least a penalty to pay.
Some would say, “Times have changed.” I propose something different; times have not changed – Christian influence has. Yes, the world is different than it was previous to the 20th century. Horseless carriages, air travel, space travel, computers, the list is endless. A tractor replacing a mule and a plow would be amazing to our ancestors from just a 150 years ago.
The way people do things have changed, but what about people themselves? People are still sinners (Romans 3:10,23). People still try not to pay taxes, just like they did when Caesar of Rome was attempting to collect them. Weddings are still happy occasions; funerals are usually sad, reflective moments just like they always have.
I cannot remember the last time I saw a door to door salesperson, but I do see ads popping up on my computer and phone regularly. In other words, the salesman is still trying to sell, the farmer is still trying to grow food, the citizens are still trying to pay fewer taxes, and all of us still sin. What we do is still the same, but the how is different.
If down inside people are the same, do Christians impact society as we once did? Do we have any influence anymore?
Through church history, it appears the greatest times of influence has also been the biggest times of persecution. I know some will not like this, but for Christians in America – we have not been persecuted to any vast extent. Some will cite the removal of prayer and the Bible out of schools as persecution. It would be interesting to hear the debate between a modern day Christian who was not allowed to pray before a football game and a first century Christian who was fed to the lions on what constitutes persecution.
Could it be that instead of persecution that our loss of rights and privileges are caused by a loss of influence?
Part of our influence as Christians is to be the “salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). Salt’s primary usages are for flavor enhancement and a preservative. As salt, we give flavor to the world by giving it meaning. Our Creator has a plan and purpose for all of us, and none of us can accomplish that plan without salvation (Ephesians 2:8-10; 2 Timothy 1:9-10). As Christians we are solely responsible for the plan of salvation to reach Joe next door, Alice across town, and Uncle Bert who lives so far away (Acts 1:8).
Also as salt, we are to preserve the Christian worldview in society. America held a Christian worldview in 1900; not so much anymore. This can be seen clearly by looking at the American family. The divorce rate is five times higher now – back in the day (1900) divorce was considered wrong; today it is almost expected. Not to mention all the couples living outside of marriage compared to 117 years ago. Societies opinion regarding home and marriage in 1900 was highly influenced by the Bible and Christians; today it is not.
Christians are also the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). Providing light into the darkness, hope where there is misery and despair. Do we? Remember a candle can light up the immediate area, but flip a light switch in a large room and several lights come on, and every corner of the room is illuminated. Does the Christian influence of today resemble a few individual candles here and there or LED lights all over the ceiling? A candle is better than nothing, but Jesus Christ wanted His message spread by us to reach not only our immediate area but “the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Have we lost our influence? Maybe a better question would be – When did we lose our power with God and with men (Genesis 32:28)?
Preacher Johnson is pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Ind. Visit his website, [email protected] All scripture KJV.