CHRIST - THE FRAGRANCE OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
My son, Jaydon, and I were in the car in COSTCO’s parking lot, waiting for a vehicle to pull out so we could pull into its space. We assumed that the parked car would be leaving at any moment because the driver had loaded her shopping bags and had returned the trolley. We could see the reverse lights at the rear of the car, which indicated that the driver was ready to drive off. The reality, however, was different. The car was not moving and I was impatient with the wait. Immediately behind our car were a number of other vehicles waiting for me to move, and, of course, I was waiting for the parked car to pull out. Being aware of other drivers waiting did add to the sense of urgency to do something, even though I knew there was nothing I could do, but wait. The wait felt like an eternity. I started to mumble to myself, expressing my frustration that the parked car was still not moving. Unbeknown to me, Jaydon, who is only five, was sitting and watching my reaction from the back seat. He heard the words I was saying. Spontaneously, and unrehearsed, Jaydon calmly said to me, “Daddy, be patient.” Feeling rather disappointed with my reaction to the situation, I responded sheepishly, “I’m sorry, son.” At that moment, I knew that I had been wrong as a Christian parent. I had behaved in a manner that was contrary to what we have taught our children, and what we expect them to do in similar circumstances. For me, that learning-moment was also a reminder of the quiet but powerful impact of the personal influence we all have on others, irrespective of whether our actions and reactions are intentional. Our influence—the way we live and conduct our lives as Christian stewards in the world—can be a positive or negative force that will affect someone’s life and choices for now and into the future (2 Corinthians 2:15).
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God—even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many so that they may be saved."
The Bible deals with the issue of personal influence quite extensively. The Christian perspective is highlighted well in 1 Corinthians 10:31-33: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God—even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many so that they may be saved." Paul’s counsel to the Christians in Corinth is still valid for us today. We are each part of a community, and it is important that our influence represents Christ. We must keep before us the goal of helping others to experience Jesus, and be saved for His eternal kingdom.
In their sojourn from Egypt to Canaan, Moses continued to remind the Israelites of the importance of loving God fully. Being part of His covenant-people was a total lifetime commitment. It was not limited to only one day of the week—the Sabbath. This emphasis was clearly articulated in these words, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7). From the writings of Moses, we see how God desires this message to be communicated and passed on to children, and even to the next generations. In the work of religious education, parents are charged with the spiritual responsibility of leading, and influencing, their young ones in the way of the Lord. This is Christian stewardship.
INFLUENCE DOES MATTER
The call to accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord is really an invitation to submit every facet of our lives to the rule of His Spirit daily. This is a reminder that, as Christians, we do not live our lives in a vacuum or in isolation from other people. What we do, even in private, can influence someone’s destiny for eternity. Additionally, we recognize that as stewards and partners with God, we are placed here on earth for His purpose, and that purpose is to live out His glory.