My Word for 2021 is Influence

Every year my wife and I try to pick a word that we would like to see happen in our lives. Her word this year is ‘freedom’ … freedom from the things that keep her from enjoying life and removing responsibilities that weigh her down. My word is ‘influence’ … to be an influence in all aspects of my life.

Influence is an important word if you are a disciple of Jesus Christ. You want to influence people to think about God, and hopefully decide to follow Christ. I have figured out that influence doesn’t have to be a word or an antagonistic attitude, it simply assists people to think about all alternatives rather than be defined by one. This blog is a good example, I only present a case that gives another view about culture and its influence on all of us.

Culture has a main product that it markets to all of us … that product is influence. Culture is a massive combination of ideas and lifestyles. American culture has pockets of tradition that draws from the past to set the course for the future. There are other factions of culture that deal primarily in finance, in drugs, in the sex trade, or in fashion. Even though culture's main product is influence, culture can be an influence as well. Hollywood, the media, and politics all influence the growth and expansion of our culture. I personally believe there are dark forces of evil who also use culture to influence society. Culture has no filters … it simply accepts everyone from the corporate culture to those violent strains of radical misfits and everyone in between. It all gets mixed together, and we call it ‘culture.’

The Bible calls culture ‘the world.’ We are told by Scripture that we are not to love the world:

1 John 2:15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.

The world sets its own standards and ignores God. Its goal is to bring satisfaction to the desires of the heart and mind. The Bible tells us that the world operates on lust, greed, and pride:

1 John 2:16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.

Let’s be honest, it’s hard to stay away from the influence of culture. I have said for years, as I was raising our children, that culture is no friend to our family. However, we live in this world, and whether we like it or not, our culture is with us to stay.

The Bible also tells us that the world gets darker which means that culture will only deteriorate and consume dark and destructive ideas that it will push into what we watch, hear, and see.

Now, this sounds pretty fatalistic … but only if I left it there. But God has promised to those who are His disciples that He would protect, rescue, and provide for them against the influence of culture and its snares. His promise to protect us:

Psalm 91:3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. (NIV)

Psalm 91:3 For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. (NLT)

He also tells us that our first line of defense against the world is to submit to God:

James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

The Apostle James starts his solution to the problem by identifying what the problem is. If you want the world, God will allow you to have it. However, if you want a defense against it, he goes on to say that you must submit to God:

James 4:7-8 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Double-minded people struggle because of the war between good and evil that rages in their lives that makes them vulnerable and uncertain about God.

This is why my word of influence is so important. We are called as Christians to influence people toward God and away from the cultural hazards that destroy people’s lives. My wife’s word of ‘freedom’ also plays a part for every person trapped by something they have no control over. No matter what the condition your life is in, God has the influence and the freedom to free you.

My influence today wants you to know that there is freedom in Christ if you want to trust Him with your life. Your choice. He is your best option.

Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler