In today’s world, there are a lot of Christian influencers.
Which seems like it would be a good thing, however, if you pay attention to what some teach, they often avoid the hard teachings of scripture, or strip them out of context.
Not only is this dangerous, but it does us a huge disservice because there is so much to glean from the scriptures, even when the application is uncomfortable and there is a risk of being “unfollowed.”
Scripture warns us of a time that will come when people no longer want truth:
“for the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:3-5
The truth is:
Jesus’ teachings were not all about “loving yourself the way you are.” They were often filled with huge calls to repentance and change.
In Mark 9, we see a glimpse of this. Check out these verses,
“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched- where “Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.”
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched- where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.”
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be case into hell fire where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.”
Now sisters, walk away and be warmed and filled! Just kidding. This would most likely not show up on a pretty Instagram quote, right? This is hard application!
But just because something is hard, does not mean we can just avoid it.
I want to ask this in the most gentle and loving way:
Are we avoiding the hard teachings in Scripture and cancelling those who do not suit our passions or tell us what we want to hear?
Are we following people who itch our ears instead of convict our hearts?
More importantly, are we watering down our own message in hopes to gain more “followers?”
I hope not.
I want to be challenged, exhorted, encouraged, and refined.
I do not want to cancel someone simply because their message doesn’t sit well with me if it contains truth found in the scripture.
And I certainty do not want to gain followers by promoting a watered-down/bland gospel.
I want to encourage you today, lean into the hard teachings of scripture with an open heart, open ears, and beware of those you “follow."
Let’s take a close look at Mark 9:43-45. Check this out:
Jesus essentially says, “if your hand, foot, or eye causes you to sin, cut it off or pluck it out.”
Now, I don’t think He means literally chop your hand off, pluck your eye out, or cut off your foot. I think He is talking about spiritually. Spiritually amputate anything that is causing you to sin.
As I was thinking about this post, I began thinking about the function of each body part and how it could relate to our spiritual lives.
Hands: They are meant for grasping, holding, and moving objects. This can be a good or bad thing. A refining spiritual question when it comes to our hands may be: “when I write or post, am I doing it for the glory of man and for likes or follows, for selfish gain? Or for God?”
Or non-writing related: “what sinful habit am I potentially holding on to? What are my hands constantly reaching for, before they reach for God?”
Eyes: Our eyes create our sense of vision. They take in light rays, focus them to create an image, and convert this image into a stream of billions of nerve impulses that travels to the brain. The impulses are interpreted in different parts of the brain, but come together to create the detailed, color, 3-D image we “see.”
A refining question may be: “how are the things I am viewing each day, impacting my spiritual vision or my writing?” Is the person I follow for spiritual growth, actually teaching the word of God?”
Or reflect on your own influence, “when someone reads my post, what impact am I having?”
Jesus says in Matthew 6:22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if you eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.”
It is so important to take measures to cut out anything that may be polluting our spiritual vision or causing someone else to be blinded with our influence.
Feet: They help us stay balanced and enable us to walk. A refining spiritual question could be: “what ungodly distraction in me life are my feet prone to walk towards? Or, in what path am I influencing potential follows to walk down?”
Proverbs 4:26-27 tells us
“Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”
This is a great chapter for reflection, and ensuring we are reflecting on our spiritual life from head to toe. It sure steps on my toes a bit!
Now maybe your thinking, okay Megan… But what about grace? Doesn’t that cover our influence?
This chapter makes me so thankful for the New Covenant and the grace we are receiving.
Because back in the Old Testament, God killed people who disobeyed Him and did not take measures to equip themselves spiritually from head to toe… Check out Deuteronomy 13:4, it says,
“If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or daughter, the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, secretly entices you, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers, of the gods of the people which are all around you, near you or far off from you, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth, you shall not consent to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him, but you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward, the hand of all the people.”
The grace that God offers today is mind blowing compared to the wrath we see back then.
But friend, just because we have grace, does not mean we should take advantage of it.
God is patient but He also desires repentance and obedience.
We see this in 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
And God is patient, but He is also expectant. His word is full of His expectations for His people. Jesus word’s in this chapter are a prime example of that.
Jesus is exhorting and expecting us to take measures to ensure we are protecting our hands, eyes, and feet and purging anything that is dangerous for our souls and I think we best demonstrate love for one another when we watch out for each other’s soul in this manner by protecting our influence.
In 2 Peter 3: 10 scripture says, “But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and its works will be laid bare.…”
I want to be ready for that day sisters. I want us to be armed with God’s Word, covered in His grace, and I want to us to be taking measures to guard our spiritual lives, on mission to take as many people to heaven with us if we can. I think protecting our hands, eyes, and feet, and influence from worldliness is the best way to accomplish this.
Jesus closes this chapter by saying, “Salt is good, but if salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves and have peace with one another.”
Did you know salt was so valuable back in the day that the Roman soldiers were paid salt instead of money?
It was so valuable because of its many functions such as acting as a preservative for food. Which is no wonder why Jesus places great emphasis on us having qualities of it.
Jesus wanted His disciples to flavor the world with the taste and presence of Christianity.
But He knew they wouldn’t be capable of doing this if they had lost their saltiness and started living blandly.
This would result in a diluted and bland gospel.
He knew it would have been hard not to promote a bland gospel when their hands, eyes, and feet were bent towards worldliness, so He called them to cut off anything that interfered with their Christian growth/influence.
In the same way, it is hard for us to flavor and influence the world with Christianity if we have lost our saltiness. I want to encourage you this week to take measures to cut off anything that may be hindering or making the message bland.
You do not have to have 1 million follows to be an “influencer.” You are influencing people each day, whether you believe it or not.
So let us strive to be Christian women influencers not only willing to be reproved, rebuked, and exhorted, but also willing to influence others by standing firm and doing the rebuking, exhorting, and reproving in love when we witness the gospel being diluted. The only way to preserve the true message of the gospel of Christ, is to rise and be such a salt filled influence that it causes others to thirst for the One and Only soul quenching solution.