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  • Writer's pictureRob

The Hundred-Seventy-First (Influence)

I hope you had a wonderful week!  Who were you around this week, and what things did you see and hear as you went about your days?  What effect did all these people and things you saw and heard have on you?  Were the effects obvious, or could you barely notice them?  

Lots of things influence us in our day to day life.  Sometimes it's how people act, sometimes it's a movie or TV show we watch, and sometimes it's music we hear or advertisements we see.  No matter what it is, it has some effect on us, whether we notice it or not.

There is an abundance of quotes out there about who we're around and what that says about us.  Some of the quotes are about what the company we keep says about us.  Some of them are about how the company we keep influences us.  I know personally, that the people around us can have a significant influence on how we act and how we speak, even on the things we're interested in.

When I was on submarines and around submariners, I spoke and acted differently than I do today.  Some of that is not just the environment, I think, but also that Yeshua brought me back to Him after I left the submarine force.  Each boat I was on was slightly different, and it even changed over time as different people came and went and leadership changed out.  Sometimes, there were a lot of those who cussed, and looking back I see how that definitely affected how I talked.  Sometimes, there was a lot of bad leadership, whether it be hypocrisy or just bad decisions made that didn't make sense no matter which way you looked at the situation.  During those times I was a bit more cynical about things and what the future held for me.  

You don't have to take quotes from famous people or even personal experiences to know how we can be influenced, you can read it in scripture, too!  Paul, when writing to the church at Thessalonica, warned about this.  Not only that, he warned about it in the church, not in society as a whole (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15).  He said to stay away from those who lead lives not according to how they were taught by Paul and the other apostles.

The context of this part of Paul's letter was a warning of not just those that are unruly, but also the "moochers."  Those that benefitted from others work.  The concern being that if you're around unruly people, and those who just take without putting in any work, that will become second nature to you.  It will be your lifestyle without even a second thought.  So, when you go to new places and see new people not only are you yourself not representing a lifestyle Yeshua taught, you are showing a bad example to those who may have never met a Christian before you and now they think that all Christians are unruly freeloaders.

You may think, "yeah, but that's just for those that are weak.  I'm strong and would never stoop to that level if I was around it.  I would influence them to be better."  That's a great thought, but a bit naïve.  There are many examples of people and things gravitating towards the state of lowest energy or the path of least resistance.  If you grab a live wire and your body's resistance is less than that of an alternate path for that electricity to travel, it's going through you to reach ground.  If you pour water on top of a hill or mountain, it will flow downhill until something stops it.

As for people, you can look throughout history to see examples of groups of people being influenced one way or another by those around them or leaders that rose to power.  The same empire that rose because some key leaders inspired and motivated people fell because eventually the empire's dominance led to more and more people seeking self-gratification and indulgence rather than continuing to do the same things that brought the empire to greatness to begin with.  They didn't have to continue those things because no other country or kingdom could compete against their empire, so they slowly went downhill until they collapsed.  A kingdom like the Roman empire doesn't fall because of one mistake.  It takes years of decline based on influences slowly permeating society in order to bring it to the point where it essentially kills itself.

We're seeing the effects of influence not only in the world but in America today.  There are still people standing up for what's right and there is definitely a battle playing out.  There has been evil influencing churches ever since Yeshua sent out the apostles to build His church, and Paul's writing proves that.  Our job is to be a Paul and encourage our brothers and sisters not to be around those that don't live according to scripture, according to Yeshua's teaching.  Not only that, we need to guard ourselves from being around that as well.  No matter how strong we think we are, it will influence us in one way or another.

Yeshua told us there would be tares sown with the wheat of His church (Matthew 13:24-30).  He warned of the unruly that Paul was referring to.  Yes, we are to love everyone just as Christ loves us (Ephesians 5:2), but you can love someone without being around them, and you can also pray that they see the error of their ways.  In fact, you can pray that YHWH uses you to help them see that.  Actions speak louder than words though, and it may just be that them seeing you live a Christ-like life is what turns them around.  

Regardless of our role in other people's journeys, we should strive to surround ourselves with friends like those of the paralytic.  The crippled man lowered through the roof was healed because of his friend's faith, not his own (Luke 5:17-26).  We should surround ourselves with people like this, because it's those types of people that help us become stronger in our faith rather than becoming influenced by the world.  

Shabbat shalom and YHWH bless you! 

-Rob and Sara Gene

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