If we live in a society, if we live in relationship to anyone, we are being influenced. The only way to avoid influence would be to withdraw from everything and everyone, and live as a hermit without any means of communicating or receiving communication. Even then, we are not inoculated against influence, as we all had natural mothers and fathers, and were raised by someone. But while our families are chosen for us, we get to choose our friends. So, it goes throughout our lives, at every stage, and in every situation that there are some influences over which we have control, and some where we do not. The question is how we will be shaped by both.
Interestingly, God largely leaves that up to us. Similarly to our natural families, we are born as children of God the Creator. But unlike our natural families, we get to choose whether or not to accept our place in His family. That critical choice, sets many other choices into motion. God’s grace even gives us the freedom to change our minds. It is sad that we sometimes don’t recognize a good choice until we have made many bad ones.
So, if we are choosing the things that ultimately influence us, what are they? What products and brands do we buy because of advertising? What do we believe about the world/country we live in based upon certain media reporting? If we are Christians, how are our belief systems shaped by aligning with particular denominations, pastors or writers? With so many choices, how do we ultimately decide what information we receive is truth, and what has been skewed for personal, corporate, or political gain? In many respects, the abundance of information available has made the quest for truth much more difficult.
Only absolute Truth can highlight potential posers, and that Truth boils down to a person: Jesus, The Way, The Truth, and The Life (John 14:16). It’s kind of like having true north as a directional starting point: moving away from that point automatically takes you away from your source of guidance. If we choose Him, it necessitates that we are also choosing what is important to Him. If what is important to Jesus is important to us, then He has become our primary Source of influence. But, is that what the evidence of our lives bears out? Is my identity in Christ, or, has my identity been shaped by my economic status, my political affiliation, the causes I support, my race, or my sex?
With Jesus, there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, but we are ALL made in His image – fearfully, wonderfully, purposefully made with individual giftedness. (Gal 3:28, Ps 139:13-14) He set the standard of equality AND uniqueness. Does the evidence of our lives support that we celebrate God’s creative genius by loving differences in people, or that we’re threatened by them? Is God and His Way more important to us than our opinions and ideas? Do we even know the difference? In a court of law, would there be enough evidence of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control to receive the verdict of being a Christ-follower? (Gal 5:22-23)