I do a lot of prison ministry, in fact my band Joshua Rising, is recording a live CD in the Eastham Unit next month. I love those guys behind bars. Yet, at the time I always leave those units saying, “Thank God for prisons.”
You love justice for your society yet you love the individual offender as a human being that needs help. To me, its not confusing, it just a little funny.
Since seeing that brother under the influence, I’ve been thinking about that word. According to Webster, influence is the power or capacity of causing an effect on someone.
Jesus said something about influence when he said; whoever is the greatest servant has the greatest authority. Because of this, I often say, “The way to the throne room is through the servant’s quarters”. You gain powerful influence in people lives by serving them in a way that is valuable. Value is everything when it comes to influence.
Feeding For Influence
Last Saturday our food outreach to the poor fed 139 local families (about 550 people) with over 12,000 pounds of good groceries. Like every week, there was a lot of hard work involved. The groceries are not free, yet we freely give them away. The event only lasts for a couple of hours yet there are hundreds of man-hours involved with every outreach.
I point blank tell people up front why we are such radical givers to them. Number one, because Jesus loves them and number two, because we want an opportunity to influence them towards something much better.
The church lost its influence in America when the church lost its value in our society. We have been moved to the margins because we are no longer about serving those around us. God help us to stop building our personal empires and be about building the Kingdom.
The Offer Of Influence
The Mafia’s way of gaining influence is through making you an offer you can’t refuse. Islam is marching through the world doing the same thing. Their way is through terror and Jihad. In both extreme and mainstream cases of Islamic ruled cultures, women are treated worse than animals and children abusively taught to hate and to fear.
We Christians point out how horrible that is, yet tend to use some of the same tactics and have the same mindset. No, we are not making women wear burkas and forbidding them to be educated, but many of us try to gain influence through being combative and overbearing. Our tactics of intrusion and invasion simply don’t work.
Kris Vallotton says that many times we believers become combative instead of “honorably confronting” and we should be demonstrating the benefits of a superior kingdom. When we combat instead of demonstrate, he says, “We reduce our influence to the small pond of the church and render ourselves powerless to the ocean of humanity.” Preach it Kris.
The Brewer takes influence as a very serious issue. If good people don’t have the influence in our culture, then I promise you someone or something else will.
Silence of the Lambs
In the mid eighties, I knew a part time preacher that made a living by working in a slaughterhouse in Cleburne. He loved the meat market and the trade of cutting meat. Out of the blue, Weldon called me one day and said, “Troy you’ve got to come down here and see something.” It was something that would impact my life.
When I pulled up behind the processing plant I saw a pen with about a hundred bleating sheep and they were totally freaked out. The door to the processing plant and to their death was wide open and all the sheep scurried to stay away from it. They huddled together on the opposite side of the pen careful to not go anywhere near that chute. Somehow they knew what it leads to.
My friend told me that unlike cows, when sheep get to the plant they have an awareness of impending doom. He said, “Isn’t that something, how they know better than to go inside?” then he confidently said. “Now watch this.”
A moment latter he released two goats into the same pen. They ran to the herd and mixed in with the sheep. After a few minutes they seemed to calm and Weldon rattled a bucket with feed. At once the goats jumped from the herd and into the chute of the slaughterhouse. To my surprise, one by one, all of those sheep that earlier wouldn’t have anything to do with going inside, followed the goats and with the last one in, Weldon closed the door. It was a big metal door and made a dramatic sound that sent a chill down my spine.
Weldon smiled. “You see that? Be careful of goats in your life, Troy.”
That’s a sermon on influence I would never forget.
You can reach The Brewer at www.FreshFromTheBrewer.com