Our Capacity to be Influenced
Through the awkward teenage years, I had a close friend who had a significant impact on me. Not only because we were around each other ALL the time, but it was an influential period in my life, as it is for most. Sometimes I wonder how my life would be different if she hadn’t been a part of it. It reminds me of the movie, Sliding Doors, a thought provoking story about the choices we make. Our decisions obviously have a huge impact on our lives, and choices about our friends have far-reaching ripple affects because of the power of their influence on us.
In day to day life, it’s important to understand our capability to be influenced. Right now we are being impacted by society, spouses, friends, religious leaders, family, and co-workers, in good and bad ways. This is why the Bible tells us to be wise about who are friends are and who we fellowship with, for their influence is extensive. (Healthy vs. Unhealthy Fellowship)
When a strong emotional element is part of the relationship, then the influencer gains even more power in affecting us – elements like acceptance, fear, guilt, loneliness, insecurity, attention, love, value, and purposefulness. Interestingly, most of these elements come into play when involved in a religious institution, like the church system (different from the true church, body of Christ). Thus, it’s tremendous power over people.
Because of the influence of others especially in the church system, it’s critical that we abide in the pure word of God (separate from others’ interpretations/opinions), on a daily basis. Take time to meditate on God’s truth. Learn to listen to His instruction and to hear His voice distinct from the others. Learn to trust Him to be the Teacher and have a foundation built on His instruction, not a human’s. Give an attentive ear, mind and heart to His Word and His instruction for a period each day without the influence of others’ words along with it. If we do this, in time, we will be wiser and more discerning among those who influence us. We will gain the ability to test all spirits as we are instructed in 1 John 4:1.
Matthew 10:16 “hold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”
Years ago, I set out in the search for truth. I asked God to reveal the lies and deception I was taking part in. As I put His Word first above all others and abided in it daily, He started opening up my eyes and still is. It amazed me how I easily trusted the words of others – especially religious leaders. How I didn’t really test them. How I couldn’t test them because I wasn’t in the Word with a passion to know God and His truth. I didn’t put the Word first in my life. I relied on others to interpret and explain it to me and that was one of my biggest downfalls.
From personal experience, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s very profitable to spend time alone (months) simply in the Word of God with no other interpretations or opinions trusting the Holy Spirit to teach you. John 14:26 The Apostle Paul, spent time alone, so what he learned, he gained from God, not man. Galatians 1:11-12, 16-17 It makes ALL the difference. Why? Because are easily influenced by others and because of the heightened emotions religion brings.
If we are abiding in the Bible, but continue to embrace the interpretations of others, we can’t help but be strongly influenced by their words. Their philosophies will be a filter by which we read the Word. We have enough of our own filters to deal with, or should I say for God to remove and replace with the truth. If we are relying on others, we aren’t giving ourselves a chance to remove those faulty filters that twist the Word of God. If we come to God with a desire to know the truth and nothing but the truth, He will expose the deceptions in our heart. A love of the truth is what saves us in these days from the massive and growing deceptions in and outside the church community. 2 Thessalonians 2:10
Because of the extensive influence of the church system, it has become a feeding ground for deception. God’s Word says the enemy will take over the sanctuary. Lamentations 2:5-7, 14, 4:12 Though, it can be difficult to accept, especially because it’s the object of many believers’ trust, it doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. When we are in the midst of Satan’s shenanigans (the self-will of man), it’s difficult to see and believe that our church would be influenced by him. In these days, we need to abide in God’s pure truth on a regular basis and put our trust fully into Him and not in man or the church system. Because of the deception that abounds, God is calling many of His people out of the church system and to Himself as the sanctuary. He is fulfilling the role the teacher, shepherd, protector, fortress, comfort, and help.
I know this post has gotten quite serious but the warnings in the Bible in regards to this issue are extensive. We have nothing to fear when our trust is truly in God alone. How do you know where your trust truly is? Remove those things from your life and you will soon see.
My prayer is that we will take time to recognize and acknowledge the influence those around us have on us; to ask God to give us clarity about what relationships and situations to embrace and which to let go. If it’s a letting go, know He’ll provide every need – I’ve seen it time and time again. He is more faithful than we know as we truly put our trust in Him.