in·flu·ence /ĭn'flōō-əns/ [in-floo-uhns] noun, verb, -enced, -enc·ing.
1. the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others: He used family influence to get the contract.
2. the action or process of producing effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of another or others: Her mother's influence made her stay.
3. a person or thing that exerts influence: He is an influence for the good.
4. Astrology. a. the radiation of an ethereal fluid from the stars, regarded as affecting human actions and destinies.
b. the exercise of occult power by the stars, or such power as exercised.
5. the exercise of similar power by human beings.
6. Obsolete. influx.
–verb (used with object)
7. to exercise influence on; affect; sway: to influence a person.
8. to move or impel (a person) to some action: Outside factors influenced her to resign.
9. under the influence, Law. less than drunk but with one's nervous system impaired: He was driving while under the influence. Also, under the influence of intoxicating liquor.
It’s easy to be a Christian around other Christians. That’s the simple truth. It’s easy to remember “how to act” and to say the “right” words and catchphrases. It’s easy to be outspoken about your faith and relationship with God. It’s easy to DO THE RIGHT THING.
But what about out in the real world?
Do others who see you at the grocery store, in traffic – rush hour no less, at work or even out with non-Christian friends know you are a Christian by your actions, by your words, by your behavior? Or do they see just another frustrated, angry, gossiping or drunk person? If they were to observe you would they know you are different?
At work are you the person everyone can trust for good advice or are you the one that is the office gossip? If someone comes to you with something “juicy” about someone else, do you listen or do you say something like “I haven’t heard it directly from the source so I don’t want to hear it second hand”? Are you the trustworthy person or are you the one that abuses others trust by running your mouth or taking a couple pens here, a stack of post-its there, etc.?
In traffic, do others see you sitting there cursing and yelling at the car in front of you, shooting them the 2nd half of the peace sign or do they see you calm and in control of your emotions and appendages?
What about out with your friends for an evening? Do people look at your group and see you order your 4th drink and be just as foul mouthed and obnoxious as the other people at the table? Do they hear you telling a joke of “questionable” taste or laughing at a “dirty” joke that is told?
I have non-Christian friends that I do go out with, who ask me questions about my faith. I’d like to think that I help tone them down a little when we are out to dinner or dancing. They certainly seem to be less ribald and risqué in their behavior and actions if I am in the group and we certainly have had some rather in-depth discussions about Christianity and what I believe in places such as restaurants, outside of restaurants, cars and even the odd dance place.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean giving up fun, but it does mean setting the example for others to see. It’s NOT easy being the Christian in a group of non-Christians, but the example and influence could last a lifetime and God-willing even an eternity. Most of the time we are the only example that others see of what a Christian is (or should be). What kind of example do you want others to see?