A Peanuts cartoon, showed Peppermint Patty talking to Charlie Brown. She said, “Guess what, Chuck. The first day of school, and I got sent to the principal’s office already. And it was your fault, Chuck.” He said, “My fault? How could it be my fault? Why do you say everything is my fault?” She said, “You’re my friend, aren’t you, Chuck? You should have been a better influence on me.”
Well, while Peppermint Patty was trying to pass the buck, she was, in a very real sense, right. We should be a good influence on our friends. You know, we all have an influence, for good or for bad, we all have one. Lots of people are watching us. What do they see?
There was a minister who was making a wooden trellis to support a climbing vine. And as he was pounding away, he noticed that a little boy was watching him. The boy didn’t say a word, so the preacher kept on working, thinking that he would leave. But he didn’t. Pleased at the thought that his work was being admired, the pastor finally said, “Well, son, trying to pick up some pointers on gardening?” “No,” he replied. “I’m just waiting to hear what a preacher says when he hits his thumb with a hammer.”
People are watching you. What do they see? You know, what they see has an influence on them.
- What do your children see?
- What do your co-workers see?
- What do your next-door neighbors see?
- What does your spouse see?
- What does your Southside family see?
You get the idea? Do they see a walking, talking hypocrite? Or do they see someone trying desperately to please God with everything they say, do and think – not always succeeding, but always trying? It’s tough to be sure. But it doesn’t remove the fact that we have an influence on the people in our lives – for good or for bad. And that’s why it’s so essential to understand that just as our faith is for all of life, our influence as Christ’s disciples affects every sphere of life.
Last Sunday we began taking a look at what I call Kingdom Discipleship. I tried to make the case that our Christian faith is for every sphere of our life – not just bits and pieces of it, but all of it.
We also saw that in the Beatitudes, Jesus lays out what the norms of his Kingdom– the only true counter-culture – are. It was after he told us that we’re to be poor in spirit, mournful over sin, meek, hungry and thirsty for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers – that he calls us salt and light. Jesus shifted our attention from what every one of his followers must look like – to who we are in our outward witness and influence in this world. In other words, he tells us who we are and who we must be as a watching world looks on. As someone’s note to me after worship last week put it, our faith may indeed be personal, but it’s by no means private. That’s well said.
Stay tuned as we dive into what it means to be the “salt of the earth.”