Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

03/26/2017 A.M.

 

Proper Stewardship Of Our Influence

Matthew 5.13-16 & 1 Corinthians 1.2-3

 

We’re in a series of lesson on Seven Functions of Godly People.

Seven functions that...

• Set us apart...

• Make us peculiar...

• Seven attributes... declaring to others that we belong to God...

 

Worship... Holiness... Community... SPIRITUAL maturity...servanthood.... Witnessing... Influence.

 

This morning... We’ll examine this idea of influence... Mentoring One another... Tonight... Jeff will address the subject of Servanthood.

 

I want to start by revisiting this week’s Bulletin article on Influence...

 

The word influence originally was used in reference to an ethereal fluid flowing between the stars... Holding them in place... This thought is alluded to in Job 38.31.

 

Later men began to think this fluid flowed from the stars down to mankind... Thus affecting their attitude and behavior... A belief we know today as astrology.

 

Influence is defined as the... Act... Process... Or power... that produces an effect without any apparent force or direct authority...The capacity of an individual or thing to produce effects on others by intangible or indirect means.

 

Perhaps a good illustration of such intangible power is that power or force between two magnets to draw or repel one another... It can’t be seen... But we know it’s there!

 

We are told that every... Body... Planet... Moon... Star... in the universe has some attraction... Some gravitational effect on one another... regardless of how small or how distant they may be from one another.

 

Indeed... We all have influence... Sociologists tell us that an individual influences a minimum of ten thousand people... directly or indirectly... during his or her lifetime... And that this influence will continue to be actively felt by others for 150 years or more.

 

Now these sociologists are not talking about some famous people like... Moses....David... Peter... Paul... Abraham Lincoln... Gorge Washington... Stalin... or Napoleon...But ordinary folk like you and me.

 

Here’s something else about influence... It runs 24/7... And we can’t turn it off.  The question is not...Will we influence others... We will!!... The question is how will we influence them... For good or for evil?

 

Jesus alludes to this power of influence in His Sermon on the Mount... Matthew5.13-14... You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

 

Jeff made the point last Sunday Evening that... If we live-out the Sermon on theMount... We will be Holy people... And Jesus maintains here that our Holiness will have... Its effect... Its influence... On others like salt and light.

 

Our story comes from an Austrian Village on the eastern slopes of the Alps. The City Council of the Village had hired a man to clear away the debris...Leaves... Sticks... Branches... Silt... that collected in springs and mountain crevices...Thus allowing the melting snow to reach the Village below.

• The Village became famous for its clear rivers that turned mills providing power for commerce...

• Clearwater Lakes where swans gathered...

• Irrigated farmlands...

• The Village became a tourist attraction.

 

A young City Counsel questioning the benefits of an old gentlemen they had never met and voted to suspend his pay. Nothing happened at first...

• But as fall arrived...Leaves... Sticks... Silt... Begin clogging the waterways...

• There was less water... So the mills turned slower...

• The water turned a light brown and had an odor...

• The swans left the lakes...

• Gradually the water became only a drip of slime that brought illness and disease.

 

Understanding their mistake... The old man was rehired. Over the next few months...

• The water began flowing...

• The mills turned...

• Crops grew...

• Swans returned...

• And so did the tourists.

 

Here it is church... What the keeper of the springs meant to this Swiss Village... Christians mean to the World today.

 

Godly people may seem... Feeble... Needless... Unimportant... They may appear small and ineffective by this World’s Standards... But God help... any community...any culture... any country that attempts to exist without their influence.

 

David wrote... Blessed are the people...Blessed is the nation... Whose God is the Lord.

 

Think about it...

• How much differently things would have turned out for Adam and Eve... If Eve had been aware of the awesome power of her influence.

 

• A lot of lives would have been saved at the foot of Mount Sinai... Had Aaron considered the powerful influence he would have upon his people... Had he refused to fashion the golden calf.

 

• Samuel’s sons would have turned out to be better men... Proper Priests for Israel... Had Samuel realized his responsibility as a father to mentor his sons.

 

• Peter pleads with Elders... To be mentors... To influence sheep... To be examples to the flock...

 

Here it is church... God expects each of us to be salt and light in our world.

 

Two questions I want to answer with the lesson...

One... What does salt and light do? Why did Jesus use these metaphors for our influence?

 

Two... How do we do it? How do we become salt and light?

 

First... What does salt and light do?

 

Salt is a preservative...Ten godly people would have saved Sodom and Gomorrah.

 

Can you imagine an America with... No churches?... No Christian colleges?... No church supported hospitals?... Nursing homes?... Orphanages?...No church backed benevolence?... No good works by the Christian community of believers?

 

Can you imagine an America with no one to protect society from the full sway of evil?

 

Salt flavors... We all like mashed or fried potatoes... Right?... Forget the salt... and we notice it immediately. The Christian Life...Favors... Improves... Enhances... Everything it touches.

 

Salt is an antiseptic...In ancient times newborns were rubbed with salt so that the cuts and infections of primitive birthing methods could be healed.

 

Christians are not so much to point out sin as we are to provide the healing power of Jesus’ blood to the sinner’s wounds.

 

Salt creates thirst. Jesus made people thirsty for their Father God.  Jesus pronounces a blessing on those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

Indeed...We are doubly blessed when we become the salt that draws another to Jesus.

 

Light... Not only does Jesus use salt... He says we are the light of the world...

• Light is a source of illumination.... It dispels darkness… Evil.

 

We are not the light... But we reflect the light of Christ as we strive to have His Heart... His attitude... His disposition... and Behavior.

 

• Light Reveals... The dark world needs the light of truth. We have it. Influence is sharing it!

• Light awakens the need for God in men and women... boys and girls.

• Light warns.

 

Now the question becomes... So What?

How do we become the Salt of the earth? The Light of the world?

How do we become effective stewards of our influence?

 

You are the salt...You are the light. Who are the YOU? God’s people... That’s US!

Becoming salt and life are functions of Godly folk.

 

Church...These words are not suggestions... They are commands from the lips of Jesus.

With urgency in His voice... Jesus says...

• If you are salt... Then season!

• If you are light than shine!

 

First…We must recognize that our distinctive nature makes a difference.

Just as there is nothing like salt... Just as light is distinct from darkness... So are we to be distinct from the world.

 

Have you ever been in a group where someone started to tell an off-colored story...But after looking at you stopped in mid-sentence... Your distinctiveness is coming thorough.

 

Perhaps someone used God’s name in vain... Spotting you they said... Oh... Excuse me...Forgive me.  You are influencing... salting...illuminating... your world.

 

Can I ask you a sobering question?... Is the only difference between us and our neighbor is that our cars leave the driveway on Sunday morning while theirs stay in the garage?... Is this hour at church the only difference we can detect?... If so… We’re not… Seasoning… Illuminating.

• Do we who are CEOs run our business by this world’s standards or Christian standards?

• We who are in middle management... Supervisors... Are we studying the world model or the Christian model?

• Do we employees do as little as we can get by with or are we serving the company... Working for the boss... As if we were serving Christ?

 

Scripture teaches that as the Salt of the earth... The light of the world...

• We are In the world... But not Of the world...

• We are a Chosen Generation...

• A Royal Priesthood....

• A Holy Nation...

• A Peculiar People

• Those who belong to God.

 

Church...It is the Christian’s everyday distinctiveness that salts and lights... That makes us different from the world.

• In business... It’s called marketing...

• In advertising... It’s called positioning...

• In basketball... It’s called strategy...

In God’s people... It’s called Holiness… amen?

Pascal once said... “The serene.... The silent beauty... of ONE holy life is the most powerful influence in the world... Next to the might of God.”

 

Secondly... Salting and lighting demand we image Jesus.

Here’s the warning... But if the salt loses its saltiness... How can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything...Except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

 

Salt is Sodium chloride... Sodium chloride is an extremely stable compound... It doesn’t change... You put some salt in a dish... Come back ten years later and it’s still salt... Still distinctive... Still maintains all its properties…Still will do what we listed previously.

 

The only way to ruin salt is to mix it with something else… Contaminate It!

 

Jesus is making the point that it is dangerously easy for us... God’s people to become diluted and lose our salting... Preserving... Savoring... Antiseptic... Thrust-enhancing...Power.

 

Paul picks up this idea in First Corinthians 15.33 where he says... Do not be misled... Bad company corrupts good character.

 

Here it is... We are either affecting our world... Or... Our world is affecting us... Which is it?

 

We need to ask the question... Just how much like Jesus are we? Or Perhaps...How much like Jesus do we want to be?

• When we drive in heavy traffic on Interstate 49?... How much like Jesus are we?

• When we play tennis or golf... How do we react to our failures?

• How do we treat children... Our own and others?... Do we take them in our arms... Express our love... Or criticize them?

• How do we treat others... All others... Especially those we determine to be down the ladder from us...Waiters... Cashiers... Maids... Servants?... Those of color... Those with an accent?

 

Paul indicates in Romans 12.16 that salting and lighting means giving special attention to those of low position… Are we listening? Are we really?

 

Indeed...Indeed... If we are going to be God’s salt and light... We must think and behave like Jesus. We cannot be salt and light... And live by this world’s standards.

 

Number three... Understand that our works are to be visible.

A city set on a hill cannot be hidden... Neither do men light a candle and place it under a basket... But on a candlestick so it gives light to all in the house.

• The Christian’s seasoning is something to be tasted...

• The Christian’s light is something to be seen.

Paul says we are created to do good works... Works that God has providentially provided for us... Exposed to us.

 

Yes...We are to let our light shine... NOT shine our light... There’s a difference.

The Pharisees shined their light with wrong motive...

• They occupied the best Synagogue seats to be seen of others...

• They fasted to be seen...

• They prayed on the street corners to be seen...

• They gave to the poor to be seen...

They were shining their light and... No one was impressed... No one praised God because of their behavior.

 

Here it is church... There is no such thing as secret discipleship... Either the secrecy destroys the discipleship... Or the discipleship destroys the secrecy.

• We’re to live as Godly people so others can see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.

• Salt in a shaker... Light under a bushel basket... Does not honor God...

• A Christian void of visible good deeds of love and compassion is a negative influence... And brings no glory to our Father in heaven.

 

One more and we’ll stop... Salt and light loses themselves in the process.

As a child... I remember cold winter days at Hazel Valley... Hog killing day on the farm.

The smokehouse was full of salt.

The women would rub salt on the hams and loins.

Brown paper would be placed on the shelves and the meat laid on it.

Then more salt would be poured over the meat.

Salt was everywhere!!

But...In a few weeks... You could go back to the smokehouse and most of that salt had disappeared.  There would be greasy spots on the paper... The smell of salt was replaced by a hint of hickory smoke in the hanging hams.

 

The salt had actually given itself to the...  Salting...Sweetening...  Preserving... Purifying...Process. The salt... Expended itself... Lost itself... In the very purpose for which it was purchased.

 

It was Jesus who said... Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies... It remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds... Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

 

Are we willing to allow God... To use us... To expend us... To literally use us up... For the purpose for which He created us... And purchased us?

 

Like the old-timer in our Swiss Alps story... We are called to make a difference.

 

Paul picks up this influence theme in Second Corinthians 3.2-3... Where he wrote... You yourselves are our letter... Our Epistle... Written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

 

The invitation and challenge this morning is simple... Will we become God’s epistle through our lifestyle? Through our influence?... So that others come to know Jesus and His salvation?

 

If you’re here this morning and not a child of God... We give you the opportunity by... faith... Repentance of past sins... Confession of Jesus... And being born again in New Testament Baptism.

 

As His children... May we become known as Salt & Light through proper stewardship of our influence.

 

The invitation and challenge is for us all... As we stand and sing together.