As human beings, we are very complex creatures, having been made in the image of God as the crown of His creation (see Psa. 8:3-6). Our worldview, attitudes and behavior have been–and are being–molded by a great variety of influences: our national heritage, parental upbringing, whether we grew up in a rural or urban setting, our natural talents and spiritual giftedness, our education, our church background (or lack thereof), our circle of friends, our passions and hobbies and now a thing called “social media,” where many are dependent on getting input from their “Facebook Friends.” All of these things go into making us who we currently are and who we are becoming.
All of us have had certain individuals who have had and/or are having a major impact on our life. My question is “Who is influencing you?” Who, or what is having the greatest influence on your life right now?
The Apostle Paul wrote this to the believers at Philippi: “Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of Christ whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is their shame, who set their minds on earthly things” (Phil. 3:17-19). Paul warned the believers to guard who was influencing them (who they were following) for not everyone who wanted to make an impression on the church was necessarily a good influence. Some in the church were probably not being as careful as they should have been about whose example they chose to follow.
If this was true in Paul’s day, it is exponentially more so in our own. Social Media and the Internet is filled with people who aspire to be influencers. We are often passive consumers of popular media designed to motivate us to buy products and to attempt to shape our values. Every day we are being pressed into a mold without realizing it. The solution that Paul offers is to be careful about those we take as our role models. We need to ask, “What is their motivation? What is driving those who seek to influence us?” Many who claim to have our best interests in view are really looking out for themselves (Phil. 3:19). But even more important is a question of values (v. 18). Is their mindset on heavenly things? Are they helping us grow in spiritual maturity or are they causing us to drift into a worldly mindset and values? Paul’s challenge to the believers in Rome (and to us) was: “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Ro. 12:1,2).
Who and what are influencing your life? Who do you have as “role models?” Whose examples are you following? And how is it affecting your faith and joy in Jesus? That is the most important question and one each of us needs to ask ourselves on a regular basis.