Each one of us has individuals that influence our life. Parents are high on many people’s list of those making a difference in their lives. After all, without our mom and dad, we would not exist.
Teachers are also high as influencers in people’s lives. Thinking back to my school-age years, there are teachers I do not remember, but others I will never forget. I am sure you are the same way.
Some influencers cross our paths briefly, perhaps less than a day. In these instances, there is usually a life-changing event involved. Others impact us for decades as we learn from them, gleaning wisdom (or foolishness) as our soul and spirit mold into what we become.
As this works in an individual, it also works in groups. For example, an athlete influenced by his father to have a considerable work ethic will, in turn, impress his teammates to give 100% in practice.
As influence works within individuals, the greater the group is affected; eventually, society as a whole is influenced.
In a family, often teenagers and parents clash over the teen’s friends. If the parents do not know the new friends, the parents are concerned about how the new friends may influence their beloved teenager. Maybe the parents know, or know of, the new friends. Their reputation is shaky — rumors of alcohol, drugs, bad behavior, or even criminal mischief. Long story short, the parents do not want anyone to lead their child in the wrong direction. They fear their kids’ primary influence will switch from them to those with undesirable characteristics. Many parents experience extreme frustration as they watch their teen, that only a short time ago, would never be involved in certain things, engage in activities that are destructive to their lives. The question many parents ask is, “What happened?” or “What Changed?” Almost always, the answer is influence.
In America, divorce used to be rare. Now, finding someone over 40 who is not divorced is difficult.
In America, mass shootings used to be unheard of. Now, when the news breaks, we think, “It’s happened again.”
In America, being gay in years past was rare; today, it is more than a rising trend; it is something encouraged to school children.
In years past in America, police were respected. In recent years, the outright murder of those in blue has increased. Our elected officials have attempted to defund or decrease funding to prevent law enforcement from doing their jobs.
In years past in America, politicians were called “civil servants” because they served the people. Now, the political civil servants call sections of the American populace “deplorables.”
What changed? The answer remains “influence.”
People can argue all day about if the United States was founded as a Christian nation. Still, the fact is our country began with a large amount of Christian influence.
Our founding document, The Declaration of Independence, references God four times.
John Adams said our Constitution was only adequate to govern a moral and religious people. He also said our principles of government are the principles of Christianity. “The general principles, on which the Fathers achieved independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite, and these Principles only could be intended by them in their address, or by me in my answer. And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all these Sects were United: And the general Principles of English and American Liberty…”
There are dozens of quotes from Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, and many more of our founding fathers on the influence of God, the Bible, and Jesus Christ in forming our nation.
As the years passed and the settlers moved west, a church was often the first nonhousing building built. The nation was not perfect, and there were other influencers. Still, Christianity and the Holy Spirit undeniably influenced the United States in the early years.
Today, many churches are centered on the congregation’s emotions instead of the word of God. Sins become mistakes to be tolerated instead of evil that needs confessing and forsaken.
George Washington’s troops said he would pray for hours. Now, prayer is a last resort, if it is done at all.
The church has taken God’s word for English-speaking people and watered it down. This watering down of the Scripture left us with a Bible with little spiritual meat. The lack of spiritual meat leaves us with Christians who can barely face their problems, let alone help others conquer the giants in their lives.
The lack of prayer and the weak spiritual condition of Christians limit the Holy Spirit in how He can work through the Christian to influence society.
Why are so many of the good things in America becoming, or are already, something of the past? The influence of the Holy Spirit has diminished from the sun’s brightness to a flashlight with almost dead batteries.
2 Thessalonians 2:3 tells us of a spiritual “falling away” before Jesus’ return. The influence of the Holy Spirit has been in decline for around 120 years. The influence in nearly gone.
2 Timothy 3:1-7 speaks of the moral decay preceding Christ’s second coming. This moral decay occurs because of the lack of influence of the Holy Spirit. These verses read like today’s news.
Romans 1:20-32 tells us of the three-step decline as God gives up on a nation. We have seen step three and are living the consequences.
Our nation is in upheaval, going through things we never thought possible. Why? Influence, or more specifically, the lack of influence from the Holy Spirit.
If there is to be a turnaround, the responsibility is with God’s people.
2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Preacher Johnson is pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Indiana. Website: www.preachers-point.com; Email: [email protected]; Mail: 25 W 1200 N; Kingman IN 47952. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Timothy-Preacher-Johnson-101171088326638. All Scripture KJV.