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James C. Guy
Webster defines impact as "the force of
impression of one thing on another; a significant or major effect"
(Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed.). We often hear
people claim, "our church is making an impact in our community." We may talk
about impacting the world with the gospel, but don't dare ask us to change.
Impact requires change. Certainly we cannot and should not change the gospel.
To do that is to make a negative impact on the world. It is the gospel that
impacts positive change in others. But, we must be willing to change ourselves
to be more Christ-like, to set the example He set, and even to sometimes change
the methods we use to impact others with the gospel. Jesus often varied His
approach to teaching and attraction to the gospel.
Some who claim to impact their community have tried to
change the truth to make an impact. That is a negative impact, even though
change may take place. Others claim to make an impact with the gospel by
"standing for the truth" and "keeping the old paths" as they understand them.
Yet, they really aren't doing much of anything to spread the gospel. In fact,
what they are spreading, may not be the real gospel at all (Galatians 1:5-6),
but a gospel of their own understanding. Their self-righteous spirit may do
more harm than good, thus making a negative impact on others. If we have the
gospel of forgiveness that Christ offers, but we keep it to ourselves, or we
present it in a mean-spirited manner, how does that make any positive impact on
the lives of others? It will likely have a negative impact on both them and on
us. We become complacent, self-centered, and self-righteous. We ask others to
do what we are not willing to do ourselves – study, consider, and change! Our
efforts to impact others appear more of an attempt to get others to think as
good about us as we think about ourselves. Shouldn't Jesus be the focus of the
change and the force of the impact? Do we attempt to convert others to
ourselves, or to Christ?
calls us to make an impact (Matthew 5:16). Jesus made an impact. He changed
many of the traditions and self-righteous beliefs of those who believed they had
the truth (Matthew 15:1-9). He called them to change. He never asked them to
change what was true. He only asked them to change what THEY established as
truth. He called them to change their spirits and attitudes they held about
themselves, and that they wanted others to hold. He called them to change
toward Him – to follow His example to truly impact the world for good.
Impacting others requires change – on our part, and on theirs. We may think it
is a great thing to impact the world, but we can never effectively and
positively change others with the gospel until we are willing to allow the
gospel to first change us. How about you? Are your attempts to impact others
leading them to Him or to "us"? Rather than attempt to force others into
compliance with our rules and regulations, shouldn't we be taking them by the
hand and inviting them on the same journey we are on – the journey to Jesus!
Only HE can truly impact our lives and the lives of others for eternity.
2006 ©Copyright; James C. Guy – all rights reserved.
-Permission granted to copy, use, and distribute for not-for-profit purposes (please include copyright).
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