Tuesday, March 11, 2014
(excerpt from a Renovare blog)
Can you think of some ways to influence people in a Christ-like way? I am struck with the various ways we try to manage our image with people and coerce them into thinking as we think or doing what we want them to do.
A quick observation around the public coffee shop I am posting from reveals examples like: the way a person dresses (power-dressing or sensually stimulating); non-verbal body posturing (hand on the hip or pointing the index finger); and the use of money (boasting or seemingly limitless purchasing). But, how should we, who are making an effort to step into the with-God life, influence people?
God does not force His way into our lives. He respects our personhood, in this case, the dignity of our will, our choices. He has invested more than we can imagine to reveal Himself to people over and over again; sending leaders like Moses and David; prophets like Samuel and Jeremiah; all these and many others; and, ultimately, His precious Son Jesus. Jesus gentlyreveals, teaches, influences, transforms and actually partners with people. He will work with any person who will respond to Him with open mind, warm heart, and obedient hands, feet and mouth.
Passages like Romans 12:9-21, James 4:11-12, and Matthew 7:1-12, teach us how to be Christ-like with each other, that is, respectful of people’s own will. Jesus wants us to respect and influence gently with truth and patience, not coercion and manipulation. We are to do such things as honoring one another above our selves; leave revenge to God; set aside judgmentalism, pride and conceit; rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn; and to ask for the things we need. As Dallas Willard writes in The Divine Conspiracy, we are to maintain “a sensitive and non-manipulative presence” (p. 231) with each other. Dallas goes on to write, ” … our approach to influencing others, for their good as well as ours, will be simply to ask: to ask them to change, and to help them in any way they ask of us. … Asking is indeed the great law of the spiritual world through which things are accomplished in cooperation with God and yet in harmony with the freedom and worth of every individual.”
Two ideas from God’s manner with us that I invite you to reflect on with me are: 1) that we would be wise to develop our patterns of influence to include more respectful requests of people, resisting the temptation to overwhelm them with our own will; and, 2) that we would be equally wise to continue to ask God for all that we need, resisting the temptation to take matters into our own hands.