Living under the influence by Deon Crafford
Luke 21:34-36 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Ephesians 5:15-21 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
We begin today’s word of encouragement with a premise or postulate – a man or a woman will at all times live under the influence. At first many will balk at this suggestion as the mere statement under the influence refers to some kind of chemically induced state or stupor. And it is a very good place or analogy to begin. As the general association of “under the influence” refers to the consumption of alcohol or other chemical substances, it holds that under the influence of such chemicals one’s behaviour may be different to what it would be were one not under the influence. And this we have seen all too often – how the normally quiet becomes loud, the normally reserved becomes sociable, the normally docile becomes aggressive and the normally alert becomes ignorant. We have seen the results of “under the influence” of these chemicals all over our roads – in the deaths, destruction and mayhem caused by our national culture of drunk driving. There is no denying that this “under the influence” is reckless, self-centred, deeply harmful and yes for the believer entirely un-Biblical. It is this last statement that will get many backs up, because it may appear to be legalistic and accusative, but it cannot not be said. If I am a Christian, then living under the influence of something that has these qualities is just not Biblical and is just not following after Jesus. There, that is how it is and there is no other alternative answer.
We should however take care that we do not see “under the influence” as merely contained in some chemical consumption. Unfortunately our lives are very vulnerable to being under the influence of so many other things that could lead us astray or away from our relationship with God. The Bible as we have come to understand and agree has one overarching purpose or role in our lives – it points us to Jesus Christ. If then the influences in our lives make us veer away from Jesus, then surely those influences are un-Biblical. I completely understand that as professing Christians we would not like to be told that we’re living un-Biblically, but we unfortunately have no way of escaping the truth. If things – whatever they may be – have taken over my life to the extent that my relationship with Jesus Christ suffers because of it, the verdict is cast. These things could include wealth creation, self-gratification, the need for recognition or vanity amongst others. It could also include social media, computer games, sport or any other element that consumes our time, attention and energy so much that we have only a remnant left for engaging with Christ. There are a myriad of influences that could put us “under the influence” and we should take care not to fall for these.
But as the postulate indicated at the start, as people we will always be under some form of influence. As Christians that influence shall come from the Holy Spirit. We know that if we subject ourselves to the consumption of the presence of the Holy Spirit, our lives will be turned and be biased towards Jesus Christ. It is then when the question of whether I am a Christian will not require an answer from me, only an observation of my life. Will we ever achieve complete holiness? I think that answer is a clear and Biblical no, but it does not discount that we are and will always be called by Jesus Christ to be holy as He is holy. Our lives then shall be lived “under the influence”, but we shall be confronted always with what influence we allow ourselves to live under. May all of us then be always “under the influence” of the Holy Spirit.
Love to all