23 April 2007

Influences

First published
June 1, 1990 Some information may be outdated.

In my childhood my mother warned me, "Never talk to strangers." The distinctives of a stranger were not very clear at the time. I just knew that if people were not from my neighborhood or my family they were not to be talked to. Of course childhood rebellion and natural curiosity led me to converse with dozens of "forbidden ones" in my early years. I allowed them to speak to me and even to have an influence on me.

Now in my adulthood the media—television, radio, weekly journals, daily newspapers—are designed to influence me. They also sell advertising to those who claim to have a concern and a right to speak into my life. If I really want to know, I will read that certain magazine. If it's fit to print, I will read it in that particular paper. If I want the inside scoop (unless it's insider trading) it's available from that certain daily journal in New York's financial district. They all want to influence me to their position. That is the essence of advertising in our capitalistic country. Freedom of the press is a First Amendment right that allows others to speak, even when their message seems against our own opinions. Everyone has an agenda that makes them want to influence others to their opinions, but few are altruistically motivated.

As we are evangelizing on street corners, handing out tracts is our way of trying to influence others to seek after and discover the living Lord Jesus. That is our agenda, our goal. Very few individuals on the busy streets of Washington, D.C., or wherever else we happen to be, are thinking about God. Fewer still are wondering how they might get to know him. Our job and joy as missionaries is to approach people and get God into their purview. We are seeking to influence them.

Many respond with, "Later!" or "I gave at the office," or "I'm trying to quit." Such responses tell us that we're not getting through and are having no influence. Ignoring us is the principal method of resistance to our message.

Then there are others who merely say, "Thank you." We may never know about these. They take the tract and place it in their purse or pocket, and we can only hope that the tract will speak to them at a later time, maybe during their coffee break, or when they change purses or clothing later that evening.

We know we are getting through when they say, "Jews for Jesus? What's this all about?" Some really do want to know about what they have always regarded as mutually exclusive terminology. Even when they say, "Get out of my face!" or "You should be ashamed of yourself!" or use some other hostile comments that would have no place in a Christian publication, we know we are getting through.

The issue of Jesus is making its way into the mindset of the hearer. It would be self-defeating if we went out only to rouse the hearers and cause them not to listen, but apparent antagonism is always evidence of the clarity of our message. Few consider us bearers of good news. More often than not they see us as unsolicited prophets, bringing up a topic they would rather not consider. Nevertheless, we are communicating as we attempt to influence those who are committed to being disinterested in what we are saying. Resistance is natural, so it does not surprise us to hear negative reactions.

After all, did you say "yes" the first time Burger King asked "Aren't you hungry?" Did you run right out and buy the bacon double-cheeseburger? Did "Oh, what a feeling," cause you immediately to purchase a Toyota because the influencers—the advertisers—told you to? Maybe eventually you did, buy maybe you did not.

Likewise, we who proclaim the gospel are not surprised that our influence is not 100% received every time we offer it. We have a right—and a responsibility—to proclaim our message even if it is refused. But if we proclaim it often enough to enough people, some will not refuse. After all, someone influenced me, and someone influenced you if you are a believer. Maybe it was your mother, or maybe it was a perfect stranger. We keep on trying because we just might influence the very next person we approach.

5 comments:

Christina said...

Never be discouraged in doing the Father's work, things are happening in the spiritual realm every time His gospel is being preached(we battle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers of this dark world) (God's words will not return to Him void).
Even as they are befriended, they will turn to the people of God in their time of need to show them THE Way.

Bob said...

Amen, Christina, thanks for those good words. "Not void" I like that.

And God calls us to share His love in word and in deed. Some emphasize word; others emphasize deed. Both are required, don't you agree?

bob

Jeffrey Levine said...

Jews for Jesus is a pernisious organization. You use every type of subterfuge and lies to convince less educated Jews that what you offer is legitimate. It is NOT! If you want to accept Jesus, you are a Christian, period.

If Christianity was as beautiful as you claim it to be, you would not need to rely on a subversive organization to proselytize to the Jews! Judaism is an open book for people to learn. That is the reason why Judaism will continue long after Christianity has disappeared.

jeffrey@xemaps.com

Bob said...

Jeffrey,
"Open" "pernisious" (isn't that pernicious?) "subterfuge".. ."Lies".. you seem to be a bit angry about something, although I'm not sure what triggered it, or why you are here on my blog.

Look, following Jesus is worth every bit of anger and hostility others seem to foist on us. He's the Messiah, foretold by Jewish prophets in the Jewish Scriptures.

Yes, some folks in every religion have misrepresented that religion. Without question.

The Messiah Jesus never misrepresented who he was or is. And to him I am eternally grateful.


Your prophecy of Judaism continuing long after Christianity has disappeared is fascinating to read. Are you often prophecying such things? And can I read the results of your prophecies and other predictions? Surely that would be open and right.

Christina said...

Dear Jeffrey and all other Jews who are seeking for THE Way:

The promised Messiah has come, died and rose again, and through this has bought the price of eternal salvation for those who believe!

It is precisely the unbelief of Jews of the coming of Messiah Christ that God, all-gracious(thank u!) has opened up salvation for non-Jews.

I urge you, God's beloved chosen people, do not grieve and disappoint the heart of God any longer - wait in futility no further - the Messiah Christ has come and is waiting for you!