For the past three weeks, we have been studying how to become an influential Christian. How important do feel that it is for us to present a godly influence on our society? Does our society need a godly influence? I'm sure that all of you realize that it does. The moral climate of our society is plummeting quickly. The basic building block of society, the family, is under attack. Immorality threatens the family, thus threatening society.
Adultery and fornication are no longer viewed as sin, thus desecrating the marriage vows and shipwrecking many marriages. It is no longer deemed important to remain faithful to your marriage partner. Sexual sin is condoned and made light of from the highest office in our land. Pornography is a growing multi-billion dollar business. Television and movies display and promote sexual sin. Our society is becoming a cesspool of moral perversity.
Who is responsible to tell the people that adultery and fornication is sin? Whose job is it to tell people that marriage vows are sacred and are to be honored until death? Isn't that the churches job? Yes, I believe that it is. Who is the church? I am, and you are! It is our responsibility to influence the society in which we live. We are to be salt and light. To prevent corruption and shine forth the truth.
Matthew 5:13-16 (NKJV) "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 14 "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 "Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
We are to make known, to shine forth, the truth of God's Word by what we say and how we live. What does God's Word say about adultery?
Exodus 20:14 (NKJV) "You shall not commit adultery.
Matthew 5:27-28 (NKJV) "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' 28 "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Hebrews 13:4 (NKJV) Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
Where are people going to hear those standards?
Not only are adultery and fornication on the rise, but so also is homosexuality. Our society is being told that homosexuality is an alternate lifestyle. We now see many actors portraying homosexuals in movies and television. Our public schools are teaching that it is perfectly fine to be homosexual. Not only is homosexuality accepted, it is promoted and protected.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (EP) -- President Bill Clinton expanded privileges for homosexuals May 28, (1998) signing an executive order banning "discrimination" against homosexuals who are federal employees. Clinton's action amends an existing executive order mandating affirmative action, suggesting that homosexuality is now a preferred status for federal employees. The order effectively adds a new category to the nation's civil rights laws as they apply to federal workers, and does so without congressional authorization.
The Roman empire was never destroyed by an external enemy but was destroyed internally by its moral perversity. Many of the Roman emperors were homosexual. It seems that the United States is following the same path.
The Romans gradually surrendered the strong families and morals that once made them great, replacing them with laxity and weakness. The often-made comparisons between the final years of Rome and modern day America are striking -- self-indulgence, political corruption, adultery, homosexuality, sexual orgies, live sex acts in the theater, brutal sports in the arena, and a creeping family deterioration and moral laziness that led to self-destruction.
Sorokin, in his book "Sexual Revolution" says, "When the ruling group and the society as a whole relax their code of sexual morality, within three generations there is usually a cultural decline, as was the case in the later stages of the Babylonian, the Persian, the Macedonian, the Mongol, the Greek, and the Roman civilizations."
Gary L. Bauer, president of the Family Research Council, called on Congress to rescind Clinton's order. "It discriminates against people with traditional views of sexual morality, and lends the prestige of the U.S. Government to promotion of homosexuality," he said.
Bauer added, "By choosing to amend an affirmative action order, the President is tipping his hand to the real agenda, which is to use government power to force acceptance of homosexuality on everyone, regardless of their mostly deeply held beliefs. This creates a special advantage in employment for people who are defined solely by engaging in behavior that most people and all major religions declare to be immoral and destructive. This outrageous power grab should be swiftly dealt with by Congress."
With everyone indorsing homosexuality, how is our society to know what God thinks of it? They are not reading their Bibles looking for God's view. It is up to individual Christians to share with their friends what God says about homosexuality.
What does God say about it?
Leviticus 18:22-30 (NKJV) 'You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. 23 'Nor shall you mate with any animal, to defile yourself with it. Nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it. It is perversion. 24 'Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. 25 'For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants.
Leviticus 20:13 (NKJV) 'If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.
Romans 1:26-27 (NKJV) For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
It does them no good -- and much harm -- to tell them they have no problem, or that God accepts homosexual behavior. They need to hear from us, not baptized echos of the world's voice, but the ancient, yet timeless voice of Scripture. We must give them God's Word, not man's. If they see this as a sin, then they can be delivered from it -- God saves sinners.
Not only is adultery and homosexuality spreading in our society like a plague, but there is also an ever increasing disregard for human life. We murder over 1.5 million babies a year in this country, and we are making doctor assisted suicide legal. This low view of human life has led to the rise of multiple murders, school children killing each other. Workers killing their peers and then themselves.
Does our society need a godly influence? I think that we all agree that it does. The more difficult question is, "Will you be that godly influence?" Where is our society going to learn about God and His values if not from His children? Hopefully you see the need to be an influence. Now, how do you do it?
We have been looking at a formula that will help us become a Maximum Influence. CL + CP + CM = MI.
The MI stands for Maximum Influence. If we are going to be a maximum influence, there are three elements that are a must: CL stands for a Christlike Life;
How can you be a godly influence if you are living an ungodly life? If you are a Christian, if you have trusted Jesus Christ as your savior from the just wrath of God against your sin, then you are commanded by God to live a holy life. You should be an example of purity and integrity. We are all an example to someone, the question is are we a godly one?
A little three-year-old boy had been learning the game of golf by watching his grandfather play. "The boy was so enthused, I bought him his own set of clubs," said Grandpa. The following week the entire family had a cookout and the little boy who had learned to golf by watching Grandpa announced, "Watch me play golf!" and then he said a no-no word and threw his golf club into the pear tree!
CP stands for Close Proximity;
There are some Christians who live a holy life but they live in such isolation from non-believers that they have no influence on them. We said earlier in our series that friends influence friends. So the best way to really have an influence on someone is to become their friend.
When I was in youth work, we wanted to influence teens for the cause of Christ. So we decided to start a softball game on Thursday nights during the summer as an outreach. I asked the teens from our church to walk through the neighborhood around the ball field and invite every teen they saw to come and play softball with us on Thursday nights. The first week we didn't have enough teens to even play. The next week we had a few more teens come out and by the end of the summer we had about 70 teens coming out to play. All we did was play softball and try to befriend the teens. At the end of each game I would pray a brief prayer and dismiss them. At the end of the summer we had a party for everyone who had been coming out to play ball. We provided free pizza and drinks and showed a movie that presented the gospel. Several teens trusted Christ that night.
About two months later one of the teens that had been coming out to play softball showed up at our youth Sunday school. The next week he was back again and I made an appointment to get together with him for the purpose of sharing the gospel with him. When we got together I found out that he had already trusted Christ. When I asked him to share with me what had happened, he told me that ever since he met us at the ball field he knew something was different about us. He said that he knew that we really cared about him. When softball ended he said he began to read his Bible every night and after a few months he decided to come to Sunday school. In the Sunday school class he heard the gospel and trusted Christ.
Folks, none of that would have happened had we not made an effort to get into close proximity with non-believers.
One day, about 12 years ago, Cathy (my wife) and Thelma (One of the teens in our youth group) were at the grocery store. As they were leaving, my wife gave a gospel track to Thelma and told her to give it to the boy who was bagging their groceries and invite him to a youth activity. She did, but he didn't come to the activity. But several months later he showed up at one of our youth activities, and in the next couple of months came to trust Christ. I think he might have come to the activity out of interest in Thelma, but while there he met Jesus Christ.
CM stands for Clear Message.
This teen said that he knew that something was different about us but he didn't know what until he heard the message of the gospel. Each and everyone of us should be able to share with someone else in a clear way the gospel of Christ.
If you are living a Christlike Life in Close Proximity to unbelievers, and if you have a Clear Message, you are going to be a Maximum Influence. You will truly fulfill your mission and honor God.
Alright, let's just say that we decide to be obedient and become influential Christians. Once we lead someone to Christ, then what? Do we tell them," have a nice life," and go out in search for someone else to lead to Christ? No. Leading someone to Christ is just the beginning. Once they come to Christ, we must teach them how to live the Christian life. Once a woman goes through nine months of pregnancy, labor and delivery, is it over? No, it is just beginning. Now you need to raise the child.
Let's say that you just had the opportunity of leading one of your friends to Christ. Now what do you do, what do you tell them? First, you should explain to them that living the Christian life isn't easy. There will be ups and downs, trials, and persecutions. It is a life of learning and growing.
Explain to them the steps that they'll need to take in order to grow as a Christian.
Philippians 4:6 (NKJV) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
Teach them the importance of prayer and teach them how to pray. Give them the A-C-T-S outline. "A" stands for adoration; this is a great way to start your prayers, with worship. "C" is for confession; we need to be constantly admitting our sins. "T"is for thanksgiving, we have so much to be thankful for, let's make sure we learn to pray with thanksgiving. "S" is for supplication, this is prayer for our needs and the needs of others.
Help them to develop a habit of daily Bible reading. The only way that they will get to know God is by spending time in His Word.
Psalms 119:9 (NKJV) How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.
Psalms 119:11 (NKJV) Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!
Make sure they find a good church to get involved with, and stress the importance of developing friendships with other Christians. We need each other.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NKJV) Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. 11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Share their faith:
Encourage them to share their faith with their friends.
Mark 1:17 (NKJV) Then Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men."
We must all realize that there is no earthly enterprise as important as the business of bringing lost people to Christ. This should be central to the lives of all of His followers, regardless what they do for a career.
Every other earthly activity pales in comparison with helping an individual man, woman, boy, or girl come into a saving, life-changing relationship with the God of the universe. Where will you invest your life?
Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Computers, realized that the meteoric growth of his corporation necessitated the hiring of an experienced executive who could provide overall leadership. So he went after a top executive, John Sculley, who was with Pepsi-Cola.
After wining and dining him a bit, he started to get the sinking feeling that Sculley was going to turn down his offer. So he took him to the top of an apartment building overlooking Central Park in New York City, and made his final, last ditch effort to try to get him to join Apple.
But even then, it wasn't looking good. Finally, in total exasperation, Steve Jobs looked John Sculley in the eye and said to him, "Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?"
In his book, Sculley writes that this challenge knocked the wind out of him. And eventually it prompted him to leave PepsiCo and join Apple Computers.
I think that all of us have a God-given desire to change the world. And nothing will impact the world as much as leading someone into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Have you ever led someone to Christ? When is the last time you did? Which element or elements are missing from your life that prevents you from having a maximum influence on you world? Wouldn't this be a good time to make a decision to be an influential Christian? Isn't it about time you started to make an impact on your world?
A survey asked people who were ninety-five years or older what they'd do differently if they could live their lives over. Their responses were pertinent to our topic. Here are the top three changes these people listed.
1. They'd reflect more-- they would spend more time getting away from the daily grind in order to thoughtfully examine the direction and meaning of their lives. In so doing, they'd make certain the energy they were expending was going toward worthwhile causes.
Wouldn't it be wise for you to do the same. Is the energy you're spending going to a worthwhile cause.
2. They'd risk more-- given another chance, these elderly people made it clear they'd be more courageous about stepping out of their comfort zones. They'd take risks in order to raise their accomplishment level and make life more interesting.
Are you taking risks to influence your world with the gospel?
3. They'd do more things that will outlive them.
Just consider the spiritual returns on eternal investments. How much of what you spend your time, energy, and money on will matter for eternity? Our world needs a godly influence-- will you be one?
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