Pastor Dr. T. Valson Abraham
Today, millions of people feel alienated from society. To feel alienated is to feel excluded and powerless. Right now, Christians are coming under increasing attack on different fronts.
In the past, Christians have influenced society in dark days. In many ways, they have helped to reduce illiteracy, increase freedom, free slaves and addictions, helped children, increase scientific knowledge and invent new devices to improve life. Persecuted Christians held civilization together after the Roman Empire deteriorated and collapsed.
Do Christians have any influence in our world today? Is the 2nd coming of Christ our only hope?
“We are not powerless…” said John Stott, “What we are, rather, is often lazy and shortsighted and unbelieving and disobedient to the commission of Jesus.”
John Stott, English preacher, author, and influential evangelical leader was named by Time magazine as one of the “100 most influential people of the world. He has offered four ways by which the average Christian can influence this generation for Christ:
1. Prayer. Most people dismiss prayer as a psychological device, but serious, Spirit-led prayer is the creative power of God to accomplish humanly impossible things for God’s kingdom and glory. Most people do not pray with power or seriousness. Even when we pray, we still act as if everything depends upon us. True prayers of faith move God to move mountains, including spiritually dull and rebellious cultures.
2. Truth. All truth is God’s truth, never the devil’s truth. All lies are the devil’s lies. Writer Aleksandr Solzhenitzyn said, “One word of truth outweighs the whole world.” The world needs more Christians who can effectively communicate Bible truth through words, art, literature, science and every other part of life. All truth vindicates the Bible, and the wise Christian who advocates the truth changes lives and society.
3. Example. We help others see the advantages of Christian values by the way we live, work, raise our families and help others. Our example should present a clear difference between Christian and world values. Jesus tells us that when people see our good deeds, they will glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16). A complaint of many people is that they see no difference between a professed Christian’s life and that of anyone else’s.
4. Group solidarity. Jesus began His ministry with only 12 average but dedicated men filled with the Holy Spirit, yet those 12 men’s influence changed the world, even in their own day. God has not changed. Robert Belair of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University has said, “The quality of a whole culture may be changed when 2% of its people have a new vision.”
Today, Christians in India make up more than 2% of the population. How many of us have the kind of vision that will influence our culture and society for Jesus Christ.
Each person who is a part of Christ’s kingdom is called to do great and mighty things for God. Do not underestimate your calling. It is not a mark of humility to say, “I am just a small and insignificant person. Who am I to think I can do anything great for God?” Rather, it is lack of faith and an insult to God who calls you, to think He cannot work through you.
The name of “Monica” is remembered for the lasting influence she had upon her son, Augustine. A Christian woman of the 4th century, she saw it as her calling in life to pray him into the Kingdom. It doesn’t sound like much of a calling—to pray for a single person—but Monica took her calling seriously and did not waver in it because she knew God had placed this upon her. He knew what He was doing.
Augustine was not a promising prospect. Highly intelligent, he was also highly wayward and lazy, a lover of pleasure and sensuality. Monica tried to teach him to pray, and he twisted her intentions by praying, “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet!” He took a lover and had a son from her out of wedlock, and he did all kinds of other things that broke Monica’s heart, but she never stopped praying for her son with many tears.
One day, as Augustine tells it himself, he heard a childlike voice say to him, “Take up and read.” He saw this as a divine command to open the pages of the Bible and read the first thing he saw. When he opened the Bible, he found himself in the Book of Romans, and his eyes fell upon these words:
“…not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision of the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:13-14).
These short words struck him hard as a summary of his own life and a call to commit his life to Jesus Christ. It came as a word from the Holy Spirit. From this moment on, Augustine became a new man in Christ and forsook his former ways.
In coming days, beginning with his own generation, Augustine became one of the most prolific Christian thinkers and writers, and one of the most influential men of all time, making his influence felt upon Protestants and Catholics alike. Martin Luther and John Calvin were strongly indebted to him, thereby changing the course of history. His influence helped to bring an end to slavery in Europe. He helped to lay early Christian foundations for later scientific learning and research.
Augustine did not take credit for these miraculous changes in his life. He gave credit for his transformation to the faithful prayers of his mother, Monica, who never gave up on him even in his darkest days. In the end, Monica’s prayers not only influenced the life of her son, but have influenced generations of believers and of human society around the world.
Monica’s story and that of her son, Augustine, should teach all of us the power of our influence, and how it may even change generations not yet born. God is glorified when we put ourselves into His hands. God told Jeremiah, “Call unto me, and I will answer and do great and mighty things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). God’s invitation to Jeremiah is also His invitation to us.
We live in dark days. In days like our own, God especially loves to work His greatest works, through people willing for Him to use them.
All major revivals, awakenings and evangelism explosions begin in dark days when nameless people, known only to God, get on their knees and cry out to Him. Our greatest crises become God’s greatest opportunities to act in great and mighty ways. The most influential people in the world are those who are not paralyzed by the times but energized by them because they anticipate His victory and their part in helping to make it happen.
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Father God, by your grace and power, I commit myself into your hands to pray, love the truth, serve as an example to others, and join with my brothers and sisters in Christ to influence my world for your kingdom, according to the calling you have placed upon me. Supply me with everything I need to accomplish the calling you have given me. In Jesus’ Name.