I was lying on the sand, my back warming in the KwaZulu-Natal winter sun. The rolling waves and melodic tolling of the ice-cream vendor’s bell as he weaved through the many beachgoers made the perfect white noise for my reading. I was so engrossed in my book that the many titbits of conversation didn’t even tempt me to engage in my usual hobby of people-watching.
Suddenly, despite this, I did find myself drawn to a conversation as a group of young men passed by. I didn’t hear much of what they said and couldn’t work out why it drew my attention. Was it the timbre of their voices? Was it the contrast to the shrieks of children and terse instructions of their mothers that played in harmony with the waves and bells? Was it because they had walked so close to my towel that it was difficult not to hear? I idly considered that fragment that I had heard and wondered if it was something of what they said that had captivated me. And then, one word stuck out: “Meaning.”
I thought about my life – my actions, choices and perspectives. I mused that for me, meaning is a significant motivator in everything I do. I love Jesus because He is the King of the universe and everything in it. The Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer. He is the Alpha and the Omega, infinite and forever. My love drives me to serve Him. Considering that meaning is so important to me, it flows naturally in my life so that I derive great meaning from the influence and impact He gives me, as I serve Him.
The way I see it is that, as we love Jesus and follow His leading in our lives, what naturally follows is influence and impact. Whether God gives us influence over one or 2 close friends and relatives (captains of 10s) or many people, including a more public impact (captains of thousands), is and should be immaterial. When we are faithful with what He gives us to do, the impact and influence are an easy by-product and, therefore, bring much fruit. When we try to muster up or inflate our impact and influence, we often are exposed as insincere or hypocritical. Furthermore, we can find ourselves functioning on our own strength and steam instead of being dependent on God. When we are dependent on God, we cannot be anything but humble (as here we are well aware that without Him we are lost). It follows, then, that we should avoid chasing or striving for influence or impact but, instead, with awe and humility, receive whatever impact God may give us as we follow Him. He chooses some to be captains of 10s and some to be captains of thousands and it’s not always clear to us His rhyme or reason, but we rest in the assurance that He certainly knows.
The question, then, for the Christian is not how we get or grow our influence and impact but, rather, what should we do with the influence that God has given us?
Let us consider the author and perfector of our faith and what He did with his influence on this earth (that continues to this day). What Jesus did (and does) with his influence on this earth was (and continues to be) to fly a banner of love.
1. He loved the no-ones into someones
When we look at the interactions Jesus had with women and children through the eyes of today’s culture, they can seem standard. We now well know, however, just how revolutionary His actions were. Will we do the same with our influence? Will we use it to uplift the marginalised and oppressed around us? Will we, with our actions, inspire those under our influence to love the no-ones into someones?
2. He loved the sinners to redemption.
The observation of Jesus amongst the tax collectors and prostitutes has been made so many times that it’s almost worn threadbare. Yes, yes, we all know that if Jesus were on earth today, He would be among the drug dealers and the nightclub owners. We know that story off by heart. But what story do we tell with our actions and our influence? Is our impact in our communities one of imposing morality or bringing grace, freedom and redemption?
3. He loved in humility.
Jesus washing his disciples’ feet is not only a profound moment in the gospel story, but a profound moment in human history. Humility was not a sought-after virtue up until that time. For a leader, much less a religious leader, to wash His followers’ feet was simply unheard of. But Jesus’ act of love and humility showed us all a different way, that endures to this day. Can we, with the influence that He gives us, endeavour to love in humility as He did?
We long to live a life that is worthy of the love He has given us, a life that is pleasing to our King. Every step we take forward in His name and word is towards this end! Concordantly, every such step leads to more impact and influence by His grace. Let us use this to fly the banner of love as Jesus did and continues to do. In this, we find a life of meaning.
Women of Reverence welcomes our guest contributor Sarah Dlamini.
Sarah is loved by God and counts that as the first privilege and blessing above all. She also has a husband and 2 children (a son and a daughter) who she loves inexhaustibly. As a medical doctor currently specializing in paediatrics Sarah is passionate about public health. At the end of her day’s she would want it to be said that she spared no part of herself in loving God as He has loved her and loving those around her as He asked her to do.