The power of influence

Christianity was meant to make a difference in a world of insanity. A Christian is supposed to see things differently from how ordinary people see them. There are so many undesirable conditions that are tolerated as normal in this world when the opposite is true. Conversely, there are also desirable conditions that are rejected as abnormal, when the opposite is true. This confirms the state of confusion, prevailing in this world.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16) (NIV).

What Jesus said, sums up Christian responsibility. This is because Christianity implies being different from how ordinary people perceive and handle things. However, what is being suggested here, is as difficult as pursuing the opposite direction in the stream of water current. Paul also preached similarly to the Roman converts:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2) (NIV).

Such words are not intended as advocating for Christian superiority, necessarily. Neither do such words suggest self-advertising or vain glory. They imply carrying the responsibility to change things for the better. The existence of Christianity can be proven by the existence of a good environment. This is just as the bad environment denotes the non-existence of Christianity.

 Notebook writing Influence Is Power, Office table with laptop ,coffee cup,glasses

We live in a very unsafe, if not an extremely dangerous environment. Everything is assumed as normal, even when a female member of society gets attacked or molested in public. People just gaze, as if watching a movie. It is business as usual, even if another fellow human is politically attacked or killed at noon time.

The common advice has always been to look the other side and mind one’s own business, rather than being perceived as dabbling in politics. It is considered dangerous to raise one’s contemptible voice against human abusers. Such abusers have freewill—harming others, under the cover of political impunity. What describes evilness, is a behavior that is harmful to other fellow humans.

The voice of reason, as expected to come from Christians, should not be subdued. How many people are willing to stand for what is good? As long as taking comfort—being a bystander where the environment degenerates into chaos—one would, simply, not be a Christian. Heartless individuals cannot be associated with Christianity.

The two Scriptures, as quoted above, describe what true Christianity implies. Which is more than living comfortably and dressing neatly, to appear good. True Christian comfort is possible, only when there are acceptable conditions in the environment. As long as the environment reveals the existence of rapists, wife-molesters, drug-peddlers, and other criminals, in abundance, Christians would be non-existent.

Ordinarily, this viewpoint can be dismissed on grounds that the handling of the unacceptable environments is mandated to the police force. However, due to the prevalence of environmental decadence, even the police officers are compromised. Only those having been transformed by the renewal of minds, can understand the responsibility of disseminating God’s perfect word. The more dangerous, the environment, the more Christians are needed.

The delineated undertaking confers heavy responsibility upon Christians. But the simplicity of this arises from appreciating the power vested on Jesus. Yet, the idea of harping upon the name of Jesus—without influencing changes in the environment, is futile. As representing Jesus—each Christian bears the cross. One cannot be a Christian when scared of the cross:

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence” (1 John 3:16-18) (NIV).

Here, the Christian responsibility is clearly spelled out for those sincerely desiring to be Christ’s followers. A Christian should not be obsessed with personal salvation, necessarily. While also desiring deliverance, true Christians are fully aware that salvation is not possible without other people’s deliverances. A Christian may have attained spiritual freedom. But a Christian is not totally free, when not catering for other people’s deliverances.

What makes the current civilization unacceptable, is wrongly defining success as implying the ability to live better than others. This explains the reason why we have different classes of people. Those leading fanciful lives—when compared with the poor of society. In other words, even the marketplace is divided into two classes—to cater for the rich and the poor—separately. The poor are designated with dingy lifestyles and appalling conditions, while the rich have privilege to access the most comfortable living quarters.

Those living in such dingy conditions, also desire to be associated with the so-called high-class of society. The idea of disowning the dingy conditions is necessitated by the inability to influence changes in the environment. Those condemned as hoodlums of society are the ones being used to maintain the fancy outlook of the rich ones. Success is associated with leading expensive lifestyles—yet without contributing anything to uplift the environment.

The status of such rich people is made possible by the poverty-stricken communities. The focus is more on improving own standards of living, than being concerned about what happens next door. Such disparities cause uncomfortable living conditions among the poor people.

Unfortunately, poverty and lawlessness are contagious. The criminal elements will, someday, catch up with those assumed to be living comfortably, when compared with the rest. For instance, among those classified as highly successful, are drug peddlers and other dangerous criminals. Those people became rich by being engaged in businesses that cause negative conditions in poverty-stricken areas.

The high-class appearance is considered a success, although without value addition to other people’s lives. The rich, gaily, walk with pomposity—but being irresponsible for the prevailing poverty conditions in the environment. This describes a nation on a dwindling spiral—where corrupt politicians are allowed to behave as they please. Christians could make a difference when taking advantage of the power of influence.

The power of influence should be regarded as most proficient in disseminating God’s Kingdom. What influence does one project to his neighbors? How does one treat his wife and children? What neighborhood influence does one project, towards promoting sanity and orderliness? This may not, necessarily, involve taking over, the responsibilities of other people—whether their children go to bed hungry or not.

But good neighborly influence could cause such children to be cared for, even, by others from far places. A good observer is the one capable of perceiving what goes on in the environment. A person of influence speaks in terms of catering for the needy, most of the times. Other people can be influenced to also love and live rightly—as evaluated according to good Christian behavior within the neighborhood.

This is just as people can be influenced to hate or misbehave, by corrupt individuals in society. The ability to greet neighbors with love, and willingness to offer service where possible is another way of influencing good behaviors. One man or woman of virtue can inculcate some acceptable culture into any society. What influence are you exerting into your neighborhood?

In the advent of social media, one can, actually, direct conversations and behavioral patterns of other people, to be constructive. There is a prevailing scathing condemnation against social media—especially coming from the conservative adults. But the sharing of good ideas and information is possible through such communications, like WhatsApp. Actually, when privileged to be on WhatsApp chat groups, one could influence the right behavior.

Civilized conversations, can be influenced through social chat groups. One could steer positive communications and make a difference. The optimum impact of social media is yet to be quantified—to be fully appreciated by sociologists—yet carrying the profoundly immeasurable benefits. The negative impact, as associated with social media, is another sign of the absence of true Christianity.

Is social media designed for influencing the right behavior or the wrong behavior? The answer to this question lies in whether there is more good or bad influence, in society. As an instrument of influence, which side are you on? Spoken words have an unbridled impact on the behavior of ordinary people. What is important is taking note that each spoken word has its original source.

Jesus spoke a great deal, during His time on Earth. He insisted that every word He spoke came from His Father.  True Christians are expected to do like-wise. The words of Jesus must always flow from each and every Christian, on this planet. Indeed, true Christians cannot afford to waste time gashing out idle words, without anything to do with God’s Kingdom.

What spoken words does one portray to none-Christians? There are only two forces opposed to each other, in this universe. Life forces come from God, while death forces imply speedily diminishing towards oblivion. It does not serve to always blame others, in despair. God bestowed responsibility upon those calling themselves Christians to influence good behavior in societies.

Are the words of Jesus sufficiently heralded across the world, by those having taken allegiance to be His followers? Or, the words of Jesus are being suppressed by people calling themselves Christians, across the world? God’s word could influence people’s conducts and change the environment overnight. Where are true Christians?

This is just as the nemesis of Jesus influences the conducts of ordinary people to maintain bad conditions, as currently prevailing. Are you the megaphone of bad behavior or that of good behavior? The answer to this question lies in whether one is God’s child or prefer to be the child of His nemesis, as ensconced in deception. Jesus managed to influence magnificent changes in Godly worship, in Jerusalem and other surrounding areas.

But that influence did not end there, hence being heralded even today, from all angles. It is a question of whether we have enough people applying what Jesus taught, to continue influencing good behavior, in the environment. Unfortunately, there are people masquerading as Christians—manipulating the words of Jesus, to suit their own selfish ambitions. Enhancing the power of the other force, rather than God’s power.

There are powerful preachers, portraying God’s word, across the Christian religious divide. Unfortunately, such preachers get manipulated by those involved in cultish Christian leaderships, meant to divert allegiance towards themselves. The purity of the words of Jesus can hardly be projected, sufficiently, when demonically influenced by imposters. There are those falsely claiming to hold Christ’s authority, across Christianity—thereby misdirecting the authority of Jesus.

However, all this does not take away the fact that God’s word gets heralded, even under such unsuitable conditions. Among clusters of deception, the remnants of true worshipers can decipher truth from error. Jesus indicated that deceptions will always appear as having an upper hand, just as this was common during His time:

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn-bushes, or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:12-16) (NIV).

The safest way to decipher truth from error is, simply, by comparing what other people say, with what Jesus taught. Nevertheless, each person has a responsibility to portray, either what is good or what is bad, in the environment. For the benefit of humanity and survival of future generations, what is good is portrayed in the words of Jesus, rather than the forces of darkness. May the true Christians rise up and confront evilness, for the benefit of our nation and others around the world?

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.

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