Who has influenced you over the course of your life? If you think back to your childhood, there are all kinds of influences there. Maybe your parents, your friends, maybe bullies at school … any number of people may have influenced you at school. I know as a kid, for me, one of my big influences was the garbage collector.
I wanted to be a trash guy. I would stand by my window and wait for the garbage truck to come by. Every time the garbage truck came back I was so fired up that I played with garbage truck toys. It was a big deal.
Then I wanted to be Superman. How many of you ever wanted to be Superman in your life? I remember running on these 8-foot stacks of wood out beside our house. I really thought I would fly when I jumped off of it. I had just watched Superman and I knew I could do it. If he could do it I could do it. I ran and jumped and BAM! I hit the ground hard! I can still remember the ground right before my face hit it. My Superman phase ended.
Well, as I’ve thought about my life, I think I’ve spent too much of my life being influenced by others rather than influencing them. I think if I was honest with you today I’ve spent too much of my life being negatively influenced by other people rather
We all influence others. We can either do it for good or bad. Jesus challenges us to use our influence for good. Stop going with the flow. Stop trying to be like everyone else. Stop worrying what everyone thinks of us as much as to start worrying about what God thinks of us and obeying who he is calling us to be.
Studies show that the average introvert will influence 10,000 people in his or her lifetime. That’s the average introvert. Extraverts can influence over a million people. So who has God put in your life that you can influence? How are you influencing them?
Look at what Jesus says. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ talks about the blessed life. That word “blessed” could be translated as “divine favor.” It could even be translated as “happiness”. He’s laid out 7 different characteristics for how we can experience happiness and joy in our lives. Jesus teaches in verse 13: “You are the salt of the earth.” Here is what Jesus says, “What good is salt if it has lost its flavor?” What good is it if it no longer flavors? He says, “Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled under foot as worthless.
You are the light of the world. Like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” Like a city on a hilltop – you can’t hide a city on hilltop. In fact, just FYI, do you know the first visible sign of life on earth from space is the Las Vegas Strip? Astronauts say it’s the very first sign of life on earth. That’s kind of scary when you really think about it, isn’t it? I’m not sure that’s the best endorsement for planet earth that we can have.
Jesus is saying that you can’t hide light like that. You can’t hide it. It’s visible. He says “no one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. In stead a lamp is placed on a stand where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way let your good deed shine out for all to see so that everyone will praise you Heavenly Father.”
Jesus says that you are the salt of the earth. Salt in the ancient world was very important. It wasn’t just something that they put on their food that raised their blood pressure. It was more than that. The Romans called salt “theon” which is the word for “divine.” In fact, in Roman culture the second most important thing was salt. There was the sun and there was salt.
Why was salt so important? Because salt was the primary way you would preserve your meat and food. They couldn’t throw it in the freezer. What they would do was take salt and rub it into the meat. Once they rubbed it thoroughly into the meet it would preserve it and keep it longer so they could take it with them and eat it on the road. Roman soldiers would often be paid in salt. This is how they got the phrase – true story – he’s not worth his salt. He’s not worth his pay. He’s not worth what we gave him.
Salt had two primary functions. One, it would season. The second, it would preserve. So friends, we’re called to be seasoning in our world and to be a preservative to our world. We’re to season the world by bringing the goodness of God and the joy that he has put into our lives into the world. When you do that and season the world then you cause other people to be thirsty. Have you ever noticed if you eat something really salty you get thirsty?
Christ is also challenging us to preserve the world. To literally rub into our culture and be a preservative in our culture for God and for good. You see, as we come into the world and we interact with people we’ll either increase their joy and level of happiness or we can decrease it and take it away. The decision and the choice is up to us.
William Hart who wrote a book called The 100 Most Influential People in Human History. When you pick the book up you think immediately that Jesus will be first. I mean, who has been more influential in all of human history than Jesus Christ? From just a historical point of view you’d be pretty hard pressed to name someone else. But do you know what William Hart did? He put Jesus third. He said first was Mohammad. Second was Sir Isaac Newton. Third was Jesus. He said the reason he put Jesus as the third most influential people was not because of his own account. On his own account Jesus would be the most influential person.
Hart said it was Jesus’ followers that have done a relatively poor job of living out his message. If you look at the history there are seasons when many people have done amazing things for the good of the world and the glory of God and then you look at other seasons and you see where Christians have done some pretty horrible things rather than being salt.
I think sometimes we underestimate our influence. I don’t know that our friends are really concerned or care about what we say. I think they are a lot more concerned about what we do. I’m not sure how concerned they are about how we preach to them and what we say to them. I think they are a lot more concerned about how we live our lives and if we are truly authentic.
Who is it in your sphere that God is calling you to touch? Who is in your sphere that God is calling you to reach out to? To encourage, to cheerlead, to make a little time for … who is in your sphere? Even introverts influence 10,000 people in their lifetime. Don’t underestimate your impact.