Influence

‘You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. Matthew 5:13 NIV

The South of Ireland held their referendum on abortion, and in a shock to many on either side of the argument, the swing to allowing abortion in many situations was agreed. The vote was 65:35 in favour of relaxing the current legislation. The real shock was the size of the majority.

Two comments struck me as I watched the aftermath unfold, and both were sadly accurate. One commenter said, “Just because the majority voted for it, doesn’t make it right”. In a democracy that can be shown to be true in many societies. The second opinion was this: “The influence of the church has been largely dismissed as a result of the recent child abuse scandals involving the priests and the associated cover up. How can the ordinary person believe what they say now on anything?”.

The ordinary Christian in the pew has a responsibility to be a witness to the Jesus they profess, but a much greater burden of responsibility lies with the leaders in all and any church of all and any denomination. The thought and fear expressed in the wake of the referendum result is this: Would the outcome have been different if the church had spoken its advice in truth, purity, sincerity and the integrity they always claimed? In this case, the change could have been massive and an opportunity was lost.

To a smaller degree, our church of members and leaders should be aware of the impact on other people’s lives if we are seen as hypocrites, or at best a poor reflection of the Saviour we claim. When we lose our ‘shine’ we automatically lose the witness that should and could attract the unbeliever to become a believer. Perhaps not on a massive scale as shown by the recent Irish referendum, but certainly on that friend or family member you would love to see become a believer, and even more so because your life and lifestyle made the difference. In the words of the old saying, “The kingdom was lost for want of a nail.” Let’s make sure our influence is not dismissed. Think what you like, people do notice.

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