I just wrapped up a podcast series on influences. The 3 areas I focused on were: faith/church; family/friends; and Facebook and Twitter.
We are greatly influenced by others. We often make decisions based on others' opinions. This can be good or bad. Good-because others who walk in wisdom can guide us appropriately. Bad-because others' personal agendas can steer us off path.
Remember the old cartoons? When the character would face a temptation, he would have an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other shoulder. Then he (the main character) would have to choose. Of course, he would choose the angel because it's a children's cartoon in the 1980's and 1990's.
Who are we listening to? And mostly.....why are we listening to them? I'm shocked how many people praise their pastor and every sermon he (or she) preaches----yet----they do not check the Source. The Bible. Sometimes, leaders get caught up on preaching doctrine often. While doctrine is important because it gives the Church some structure, it is not the biggest focal point.
The Gospel should be our PRIMARY focal point. Not our political party. Not our denomination. Not what mommy and daddy think. Here's why.....
The Gospel penetrates hearts. It crosses cultural lines. It goes on what is needed for people and not what is easy, comfy, and "always been done this way". The Gospel does what is needed instead of what is expected. The Gospel is love. Jesus continually challenged the religious elite. Especially Pharisees. They were hellbent on rules, traditions, and looking good for others. The issue with this is people get so focused on external factors such as: rules, traditions, and looking good --- that they lose their heart. They looked good for Jesus and others. But they missed out on his love.
The Gospel brings freedom. Freedom from serving out of obligation or duty.
What if our churches actually prayed about the programs they facilitate and money they spend? Some programs should continue. Some programs should have died when shag carpet went out of style. Why do we do..(insert program name) and who (name audience) does this benefit?
What if we prayed as families about holidays and how we spend time together? What if we prayed and asked Jesus about (family member name or situation)?