Using Circles of Influence to Live Missionally
We look at our lives differently when we realize that God has put us in the exact place that He’s put us for a reason. There are thousands of years of history, there are millions of places that you could have been born, there are gazillions of families that you could have been born into! Why did He put you right here right now?
There’s an easy answer to that question: for His purposes.
Do you believe that answer? Do you believe that God has placed you where He has for His purposes? If you do, then it allows you to see that He put you in a place with people all around you who need to know Him and who need to be discipled into disciples who make more disciples.
Then the next question is: are we living our lives that way?
Influencing others for the cause of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is much easier when we realize that God is always at work around us (John 5:17). It’s not as easy if we think that we have to start the work of the Gospel in the lives of those around us. God has already begun that. We have to be in tune to the Holy Spirit so that He can use us as His tools to continue the work that He has already begun. It might be a Scripture, an encouraging word, prayer, a heart-to-heart talk, an invite to church or a Bible study, meeting a felt-need, or a chance to just show the love of Christ in a tangible way that ministers to their hearts and helps meet their needs.
When we try to minister to others in our own timing and in our own ways we are neglecting the need for Holy Spirit dependence. If we’re just doing things that make sense to us then we’re probably not depending on the Holy Spirit. If we’re always working within our comfort zone, then we’re probably not depending on the Holy Spirit. If we’re holding onto sin or trying to eliminate our sin in our own ways, then we’re definitely not depending on the Holy Spirit. God’s work is only done through people who are depending on the leading, the empowering, the gifting of the Holy Spirit.
We are God's ambassadors. He has positioned us here on this earth to do His work. You’re His representative here in this foreign land. Are you living your life in a way where others would look at you and say, “That person represents Jesus Christ here in Athens?” Would they come to you knowing that you’re going to speak the truth of God’s Written Word into their lives? Do you trust that you’re going to be able to give His advice to others? We will if we're walking with the Spirit and following the directive in 1 Peter 3:15, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give reasons for the hope that you have.”
We must become part of others' lives if we're to be Christ's ambassador to them. We cannot have a significant influence from the outside. We must follow the example given to us by Jesus through His incarnational presence. We have to get involved in peoples’ lives. You have to get to know them, their hurts, their struggles, their pains, their joys, their loves, their tendencies; you have to hang out them, invite them into your homes, enjoy meals together, go to the pool together, go to Cedar Point together, watch sports together, etc.
Handing out tracts to strangers isn’t enough of a witness in our culture. Inviting people to church isn't enough. Those are good things to do, but we need to take steps to develop a meaningful relationship with them. We see God at work in their lives as we minister to them THROUGH relationship rather than allowing our "drive by witnessing" as the definition OF our relationship.
Pray about it. Define your circles of influence. Look at all of those who God has placed in your life. Get to know people. Depend on the Holy Spirit. Watch what He does in you and through you!
James E. Bogoniewski, Jr.