Persuade Others By Making Small, Potent Changes
What do humans fear the most?
What is our deepest, most fundamental desire?
At our core, we long to impact others. We fear living our entire life in a shell, never affecting anyone.
This may be even truer for Christians.
Why? Because it’s been hammered into us that we are God’s “tools.” We’ve been instructed to have purpose and meaning through influence and persuasion. When we don’t, we are deeply dissatisfied.
We’re commanded by Christ to “go and make disciples of all nations,” yet do we really? Do we convince anyone His Way is a Way that works?
We’re commanded by Christ to make disciples, but are people convinced His Way works?
– Diane Watt, Scripture Seeds
We say we believe and that others should also, so they watch and observe. But what they see doesn’t prove – in their eyes – to be worth it. In turn, our unbelieving co-workers, family, and friends snicker behind our backs, further convinced we’re playing the Game of Faith.
We sneer at them. Call down fire from Heaven on them. Cry persecution.
Listen, I adore my Christian Brothers and Sisters. But what I’m about to say might not win me Class President:
Why wouldn’t they mock us? After all,
We Look Like Everyone Else
There are two types of people in this world: salty and unsalty.
Believers are supposed to be salty; unbelievers are not. This was illustrated by Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount when He called Christians the “Salt of the World.”
What did He mean?
My family loves fried pork chops. A few weeks ago, I accidentally dumped a pound of salt into a teaspoon of batter. I hastily tried to fix it, but later listened as my family smacked and coughed while choking their dinner down. Evidently, my strategy didn’t work.
Salt is powerful. Place one tiny grain on your tongue and you’ll taste it. Put a teaspoon in warm water and you’ll feel like you inhaled the Gulf of Mexico.
But what if we’re not salty?
What if we’re tasteless grains of grit?
George Barna of the Barna Research Group, who is a Christian, studied the behavior of believers and non-believers alike. He concluded, “We think and behave no differently than anyone else.”
In his research, he found little to no difference between Christians and non-Christians in the following areas:
- Depression rates
- Charitable giving
- Life satisfaction
In fact, non-Christians gave more money to the homeless and were more involved in community issues than Christians.
It almost looks like being a non-Christian is the better choice. That, my Friends, makes me want to stick my head in the toilet and flush twice.
Our Solutions are Human, not Godly
I experienced a crisis the other day. Deeply discouraged about an unexpected situation, I brewed and wondered how I should handle it. I had no answers, so I reached for my most trusted friend: Google. Surely, he could help me.
Google has replaced God, and Christian lives reflect it.
– Diane Watt, Scripture Seeds
I caught myself in the middle of my error. Then I realized: how symbolic of the Church! Instead of seeking Godly answers, we seek human ones.
Google has replaced God, and our lives reflect it. When comforting or advising a friend, our solutions barely resemble those found in Scripture.
The result? The blind leading the blind.
This Isn’t Where It Ends, Though
I used to attend a church which held what I lovingly refer to as “Sunday Beat-Up Sessions.” During the service, the pastor would (God bless him) list the Church’s flaws: we’re too worldly. We don’t love enough. We’re too steeped in sin.
Then, he would release us. We’d go to Chili’s for lunch and chew our cud robotically under a cloud of discouragement.
I balked at the lack of direction. Listen, I already know I’m horrible! Can someone tell me how not to be? Raise your hand if you also want workable solutions.
In the face of mounting ineffectiveness, we can change. There are ways to fix this!
Transform Our Belief System
The other day I asked myself whether I really believed Jesus was God. Did I truly buy into all this stuff? I had to know.
After much reflection, I concluded: yes. Yes, I did. (I find it disturbing that eleven years into my faith, I still have to ask this question.)
But then, I felt God ask me, “Why do you act like you don’t?”
I stopped in my tracks, realizing He’s absolutely correct. So often I believe in God, but my belief system doesn’t reflect it. I know to my core Jesus is Who He says, but I act like the rest of the Biblical promises belong to the uber-spiritual in third-world countries.
In short, I believe God is God, but the rest of the Bible…well, that was written for others.
Our entire belief system needs to be radically transformed. We need to be conformed to the Word and not the world. To do that, we need to switch off The Walking Dead and switch on our Bible apps. But what’s more, we need to believe the Bible.
In today’s crazy, pull-me-every-which-way world, how do we do that? How can we, as Jesus said, be the Salt of the World?
Read the Bible
First, we can’t be ignorant. We have to know the Biblical promises in order to believe them.
But what if you barely have time to brush your teeth? Last time I checked, the Bible is huge, and most people don’t have a moment to read the directions on a medicine bottle, let alone the entire Bible.
My suggestion: find a way that works for you. Forget the rules. Christian culture is brimming with statements like, “read the Bible every morning for 50 minutes,” or “pray while standing on your head for 17.5 seconds.”
Listen, suggestions are wonderful, but if they don’t work for you, don’t do them! If you need to listen to an audio version of the Bible while driving a van full of preteen girls to soccer practice, then do it.
The goal is to get it done – however it works for you.
Actually Believe It
This is the hard part. We gotta believe it for ourselves.
For example, Philippians 4:19 says God will provide all our needs. So often, though, I’ve bent over the family finances and wondered if we’d be dining at a trash can. What kind of faith is that?
Increasing our faith is an exercise. All Christians are given the same faith muscle at their Second Birth, but it’s up to us to strengthen it over time.
Also, it’s great to say you’re going to practice the habit of belief, but you must track it to have long-term success. The belief habit needs to be quantified.
Here’s a suggestion: download HabitBull. Create a new habit called “Have Faith?” Then, set the goal to believe a Biblical promise at least five times per day.
When you have faith, click the plus button. Put a comment if you have time.
When you don’t, click the minus sign.
There’s no doubt Christians are losing connectivity with God. It’s evident in all areas of our life. Prayer has become a lost art. But how many times has God shaken Heaven and earth because of one tiny, little prayer?
The verdict is in: we need to pray.
However, you must find a way that works. So often, we as Christians are told to pray for an hour at the beginning of our day. But if you’re a grump who can barely put two syllables together before 11am, you need to move it back after your customary trip to Starbucks.
Find what works.
I use the B-L-E-S-S acrostic to guide my prayers. Some find it confining, but it works for me. It’s a schedule that forces me to do something I wish were natural.
Sunday – pray individually or corporately at church
Monday – Body: pray for physical health for you and your loved ones
Tuesday – Labor: pray for fruitful labor for you and your loved ones
Wednesday – Endurance: pray for stamina and endurance for you and your loved ones
Thursday – Social: pray for the relationships of you and your loved ones
Friday – Spiritual: pray for spiritual fulfillment for you and your loved ones
Saturday – pray individually
I also use the Habitbull app to track my prayer practice. Some find it strange to systematize something that should be done spontaneously, but for me, spontaneous prayer isn’t natural. Heaven knows I wish it were, but until I become the Female Billy Graham, I’m sticking to my simpleness.
So there you have it. These three applications are small starts to a big life of faith.
You can be the spiritual giant you always envisioned. You can live the triumphant Christian life. You can be the Salt and the Light.