by Philipp Meinecke
A city set on a hill. Visible even to the untrained eye.
A lamp bringing light even into the darkest of rooms.
A beautiful bride, made ready for her husband.
A house in which even those far off find a home.
Jesus used many compelling and vivid metaphors to describe the church and its intended influence on the world. Through the power and work of the Holy Spirit, the Early Church presented such a transformative force on its culture that even persecution could not stop it, hinder it, or keep it from changing culture.
In Christ’s view, the purpose and function of the church was to be the primary agent to advance God’s kingdom here on earth. He would build it, he would cause it to grow, he would look after it, and he would see to its success. What’s more, he said that even the gates of hell will not prevail against it. He understood the church’s function to be an active instrument used in an offensive manner (as opposed to defensive) and which has been purposefully aimed at Satan’s kingdom, placing his kingdom on the defensive (gates are defensive measures to keep intruders out).
Yet today, instead of turning the world upside-down, we’ve largely turned it off. Increasingly, people in the West tend to like Jesus, but not his Church. With few exceptions, the voice and influence of the church on its surrounding culture has all but gone. What’s more, Christ’s metaphors for it are less and less discernible in the church today. Ironically, he warned his disciples about its drifting into irrelevance when he said, “Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? (Luke 14:34)”
If salt is compromised in any shape or form, it will lose its influence—that is, its ability to season, to preserve, and change that which it is applied on. Similarly, “if the Gospel of grace has been compromised, the Church has lost its influence.”
When we talk about influence, we talk more than the dictionary definition, although it is an integral part of it—Influence [in-floo-uh ns]: “The power to cause changes without directly forcing them to happen.“ In Christ’s view, transformative change stems out of the overflow of one’s relationship with him—much like the branch, properly connected to the vine, will yield fruit. A church, then, which is vitally connected with God, with one another, and its surrounding culture will exert its transformative influence almost effortlessly.
Its presence unmistakable.
Its power noticeable.
Its appeal irresistible.
Its influence unmistakable.
Christ’s Church will continue to operate this way if, and when, each of the pieces will do their part: Christ must be the cornerstone and head; there will need to be a proper focus, proper examples to follow and to become, and a proper message to be delivered in word and deed. And all of it without compromise. In essence, it’s a church of irresistible influence.
In a world where much of the Church has lost its influence, will we—as members of his body—orient ourselves according to God’s Word or will we be content with status quo, even if that means compromise?
As a community of believers that have been strategically placed in the community we are in, how are we going to be intentional about our influence on those around us?
What can we learn from one of the most influential churches in history that we can apply to our context today?
Join us Sunday as we unpack this text and discover truth ourselves and we dig into God’s Word.
Philipp Meinecke is Network Director of German-Speaking Europe, Precept Ministries International e.V. He and his family reside in Bavaria, Germany.