The dictionary defines “influence” as the “capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.” We all have that capacity – to influence those around us by our words, beliefs, actions and behaviors. However, it is important for us to make up our minds to be positive influence and not to allow ourselves to be influenced negatively. John Piper said “The world needs godly people – not superficial, worldly people who happen to be culturally hip and cool…You need to be weird, out of step, and full of sacrificial, risk-taking love.” Billy Graham also wrote “The church (believers) should be setting the pace. The church should be taking its proper place of leadership in the nation. God help the church to wake up!” Think about Billy and John’s quotes for a minute. True, Christianity deserves credit for many of the humane, social, scientific, cultural advances in the world in the last two millennia. *Missionary David Livingstone, propagated his idea- that the key to Africa’s future was the stimulation of indigenous development and good government. He advocated that civilization could only be achieved by the combination of Christianity with legitimate commerce, to replace the Slave Trade which had been the bane of Africa’s development for centuries. In their published article on the contributions of the Christian Missionaries in building the Nigerian nation, Chika Okpalike and Louis Nwadialor wrote that “The missionary activities in Nigeria, especially their educational programs helped to whip-up the consciousness of a shared identity and helped to train a new set of elite that championed the course of nationalism and constituted a virile leadership for the young nation at independence.” But today, are we influencing others or being influenced by them? Is the world copying us or are we the one copying the world? Are we reaching unbelievers near us or are we becoming like the very people we should be reaching? Perhaps you have heard this saying, the world is becoming churchy and the church worldly. Indeed, Billy Graham’s prayer above is crucial. God help us to wake up.
*Fidelis Nkomazana (1998). Livingstone’s ideas of Christianity, commerce and civilization. Pula: Botswana Journal of African Studies 12, 44-57