The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

Six Powerful Forces That Shape Every Christian

Posted on: September 05, 2017

 

HARNESSING THESE FORCES CAN HELP US ACHIEVE OUR GOD-GIVEN POTENTIAL

If you harness these six forces for good, they can help you achieve your highest spiritual potential in life. If you simply let these forces act upon you, you will be dragged down to your lowest potential. Your stewardship of these six forces will determine who you become and what you accomplish in life.

  1. Knowledge

Knowledge is power. Your world is as big as your knowledge of it. And, your ability to influence and steward the world around you is largely dependent upon your knowledge of it.

Knowledge is central to the Christian life. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free”(John 8:32). In addition, Solomon said,

  • Wise men store up knowledge (Proverbs 10:14)
  • It is not good for a person to be without knowledge (Proverbs 19:2)
  • A man of knowledge increases power (Proverbs 24: 5)

To the degree that we do not know the truth, we are vulnerable to ignorance and deception. To the degree that we do know the truth, we have the potential to become all God intends.

To identify and possess an essential foundation of knowledge, and to be continually seeking knowledge, powerfully shapes our lives.

  1. Beliefs

For the Christian, it is not only important what we know, but it is also important what we believe. The reason? Because we may know some important things that we don’t believe.

My favorite example is Philippians 4:19 – “My God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

As Christians, we may know that passage, but it often does not comfort us when we face serious financial, health, or circumstantial crises. Those things are often met with raging anxiety because there is a gap between what we know and what we believe.

Negative emotions can be very reliable indicators of what we believe. The two great negative emotions, fear and anger, and their common cousins of anxiety and depression, can typically be traced back to something in the Bible that we either do not know, or we know but do not believe.

To monitor our negative emotions and to be continually alert to embracing truth we may not yet believe is a discipline that can have life-changing impact.

  1. Mental vigilance against negative influences

Neuroscience makes it clear that we become like what we think about. Neuroplasticity is a term that refers to the fact that not only can the brain change, but the brain does change, and it always changes in the direction of what is put into it.

We must be vigilant against things that negatively influence the brain. There are three ways we can negatively influence our brain.

  • We can let negative things into our brain from the outside
  • We can create negative things from inside our own brain
  • We can let our brain dwell on negative things whether they came from the outside or the inside

Scripture warns us against allowing our minds to feed on negative things (Matthew 5:28, Philippians 4:8) as does neuroscience, psychology and common sense.

  1. Mental vigilance for positive influences

Mental vigilance also includes deliberately bringing positive things to bear on the brain. The most powerful positive influence on the brain is to master the Bible so well that the Bible masters you. There are four steps to doing this.

  • Read the Bible for breadth of knowledge
  • Study the Bible for depth of knowledge
  • Memorize from the Bible to master the Word
  • Meditate on the Bible for the Word to master you

It is important for Christians to take the truth of Scripture through their brains over and over again. The brain does not automatically believe what is true. It believes what it is told most often. Because we live in a fallen world with unbiblical messages coming to us through electronic media and culture thousands of times a day, we must offset that influence by deliberately exposing our brains to counterbalancing positive input from Scripture.

Scripture includes mighty promises for those who master the Bible so well that the Bible masters them (Psalm 1:1-3, 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

There are certainly other positive mental influences, as well.

  • Exposing the mind to mentally beneficial art (good literature, good music, good visual art)
  • Exposing oneself to the salubrious effects of nature
  • Participating in activities that feed the soul
  1. Friends

Someone has said that we tend to be like the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Whether or not this is technically true, it is certainly true that our friends have a powerful influence on us.

  • “Do not be misled: bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33
  • “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20
  • “The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” Proverbs 12:26

The danger lies not merely with our personal relationships with a few close individuals, but it also includes the broader culture of our friends. The places they go, the things they do, the influences they expose themselves to all come into play with the friends we choose.

  1. Mentors

A final powerful force in the Christian life is our mentors, those we look up to and to whom we may hold ourselves accountable. We all need these people who lead us, who convey information and ability, who shape us by their example.

They may be personal mentors or they may be authors, public figures or leaders to whom we may look for inspiration and input. But whether they are personal relationships or public figures, the mentors in our lives can shape us profoundly with their example and shared information.

Conclusion

These are six powerful forces that shape every Christian.

  1. Knowledge
  2. Beliefs
  3. Mental vigilance against negative influences
  4. Mental vigilance for positive influences
  5. Friends
  6. Mentors

If we are ineffective stewards of these forces, they can sink us to levels of behavior and accomplishment that are beneath our dignity as children of God.

If we are effective stewards of these forces, they can help us rise to heights of behavior and accomplishment beyond our expectation.


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