Influence is the way we help to bring change about in the lives of other people. This is true not only for us personally but also for communities and nations. The change we long to see happen in the lives of other people, in our communities, in our churches, and in our nation begins with our influence.
One of the killers of influence is power or authority. When we seek to bring about change based on our power or the position we hold we will ultimately fail to see the results we hoped to have. People may adhere as long as we are there to enforce obedience, but they will not comply when our backs are turned. A change of heart can’t take place by force and resentment quickly replaces any influence we may have had.
Looking at the life of Jesus we notice He sought to bring about change based on influence. He is the one person who could have rightly demanded obedience and yet He sought to influence people by showing them respect and compassion and then providing them with a choice.
Nicodemus, the woman at the well, the apostles, and Zacchaeus (just to name a few) are people who were influenced by Jesus and decided (except Judas) to give their lives to Him. By showing them respect and compassion Jesus was able to allow these people to discover who He really was.
What we find in Jesus in in stark contrast to what we read in the Old Testament. The Ten Commandments and all the other laws given to direct Israel’s daily life could not bring about change. These people continually turned away from God, even after witnessing awesome displays of His power.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons the writer of Hebrews wrote: If the first covenant had been faultless there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it (Hebrews 8:7; NLT). This doesn’t mean that God made a mistake by establishing the first covenant. One of the things it does mean is that God was trying to show us the inadequacies of the ways we want to do things. Law cannot bring about salvation and Power cannot change a person’s heart. God wants us to realize that every other way is inferior to the way of Jesus.
Jesus’ way to bring about change is not about power, but humility and service. It isn’t about authority but about influence. It is the way of the Lion who became a Lamb who was Killed (Revelation 5:5,6). Jesus gave up His power and gave His life away in order to influence people so that they might choose to change.
Change is not going to happen as the result of laws and political power, but through the influence brought about by humble and compassionate service. We will only see the change we want to happen in this country when we trust God enough to do it His way. The way of the ballot box and political clout is the way of the world, the path of Jesus is influence due to giving our lives away.