Impact

October 21, 2018

Impact
Philippians 3:10-14
2 Timothy 3:10-17

 

We’ve all heard of (and experienced) G-forces before, haven’t we?  G-force is basically the energy our body is subjected to, as the result of gravity. In other words, “1-G” is the effect of normal gravity on our body. Just being alive... sitting in a pew... you’re experiencing “1-G.”

 

Of course... scientists who study G-forces tell us that an average sized person - wearing a seatbelt and traveling at only 30 miles per hour - experiences around 30 g’s of force in a front-end collision with a fixed object. That’s 2.4 tons of force acting on the body!  What’s worse is that if you DON’T wear a seat belt at the time of the crash... the g-forces jump to 150 g’s - or 12 tons of force on the body. That can be a devastating impact! 

 

And speaking of devastating impacts... I was reading last week about the impact... the physical impact of “hits” experienced by football players. It’s the main reason there’s such an emphasis on protecting “defenseless players” these days. 

 

Apparently, studies have determined that if a 199 pound defensive back, collides with another player, the resulting kinetic energy is enough to produce 1,600 pounds of force.  A cow weighs about 1,600 pounds, so imagine THAT hitting you. 

 

The g-forces experienced during such a violent hit - especially helmet to helmet blows - can register up to 150 g’s!  That’s 150 times the force of gravity! 100 g’s is enough to cause a concussion - or worse. 

To put that into perspective: Astronauts experience about 10-g’s during takeoff... and pilots tend to black out at around 20 g’s.

 

Of course, all this talk about gravity and g-forces and impacts... raise a pretty good question for those of us in church on Sunday morning. And that question is: How do we measure the impact of our faith... and the impact that the faith of others has on our lives?

 

I think it’s safe to say that there’s no Godly, spiritual impact that could ever be too great in our lives.  In fact, I’d argue just the opposite is true!  The greater the impact, the better!

 

Just think of all the great, impactful people of faith... whose stories have been handed down to us through God’s Word... those whose faith and character and understanding of God challenges us, and pushes us, and encourages us in our own life of faith! 

 

The NT tells us they’re part of a “Great Cloud of Witnesses” who “spur” us on in the faith - people like Gideon, Samson, Samuel... Jacob and Isaac... The story of their faith helps us to “fix our eyes on Jesus” and “run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

 

Think about it: Who could possibly estimate the impact that the faith of 100-year old man named Abraham and a 90-year old woman called Sarah, would have on the world?  Their descendants are too numerous to count!  Or who could hope to gauge the impact of Moses as he stood up to the Pharaoh of Egypt? 

 

Who could measure the impact Nathan had on David... or the influence Luke had on Theophilus... Or that Paul had on Timothy.    

 

Paul was honest with Timothy: he taught Timothy... sharing his faith... his purpose... his love and endurance. But also sharing his persecutions and sufferings!  All the while encouraging Timothy to “continue in what [he had] learned and [had] become convinced of...”  

 

Paul’s life, his faith, his teaching impacted Timothy’s life with the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and challenged Timothy to, in turn, use his faith to impact the lives of others... while reminding Timothy, that all the stories of old contained in the Scriptures, were “God breathed, and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness... so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 

 

And all such accounts are great testaments of faith and perseverance... but they’re not our only source of inspiration and encouragement. Just as Paul wasn’t Timothy’s only teacher. 

 

Paul even confessed to Timothy: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (2 Tim. 1:5)

 

Think about all the influential, impactful people in our own lives? Maybe our parents or grandparents or teachers or coaches... or Scout leaders... or whomever!  Who has the Lord used to model His message - and to challenge you, personally, to change... and to grow... and to mature in the faith? We can all name someone...

 

But what makes their lives so impactful and influential and meaningful to us? What sets such people apart in our minds and lives? Well, I think there are at least 4 common characteristics that impactful, influential Christians share... The first being...  

 

1. They’re consistent. The people who’ve impacted our lives for Christ the most... are the most consistent people in our lives. They’re solid, reliable, and seemingly unaffected by the fickle winds of change! They’re not “tossed back and forth... (Ephesians 4:14) or blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” They instead, “speak the truth in love.” They’re consistent. 

 

2. But they’re also... Authentic. NOT PERFECT. But authentic. They’re real. The people who’ve influenced and impacted our lives the most for Christ are honest about their joys... and their struggles in life.  Like Paul when he said in Philippians 3... “Not that I have already obtained... or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Paul said, “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Authentic “impactors” always point us to the goal. They always point us to Christ. They’re consistent... they’re authentic... 

 

3. And they’re unselfish. I know in my preaching I come back to this a lot... but if you and I are ever gonna be the people God has called us to be... we must move beyond self.  Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” 

 

Those who’ve impacted our lives the most, are not only consistent and authentic... they are selfless. They freely give of themselves time and time again... reaching out to notice the needs of others... to encourage others; being honestly concerned about our welfare.  As a mentioned earlier... I think of parents and grandparents and teachers and coaches and ministers who fit the bill for me! And I’m sure you can say the same. 

 

4. And finally, those who've impacted our lives the most for Christ... are tireless. They seem to possess a strength, and tenacity and devotion that’s not their own. They refuse to give up... They forge ahead... and encourage, and sometimes insist, that we do the same... KNOWING that as Romans 5:3 tells us, “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”  In my life, that “tireless tenacity” took the form of gathering up 6-9 grandchildren, as my grandmother would often do... and making sure we were raised in God’s House, even when our parents couldn’t (because of work obligations, or quite honestly wouldn’t, because of laziness).

 

I want you to think about it for just a moment. Who has impacted your life the most for Christ? Who is it that God has used to forge you and me into faith? 

 

Those who’ve impacted our lives the most... are the most consistently authentic, genuinely unselfish and faithfully tireless people in our lives. 

 

And you and I, NOW, have the chance to be all those things and more... in the lives of the people we know and love, too.  

 

Do not underestimate the impact and influence that your life of faith... that your devotion... that your love of Christ... has on others.  The Holy Spirit works in powerful ways... in surprising ways... to make the grace of Christ tangible... real... both in our lives and the lives of others. 

 

Be open to God’s Spirit. Pray for God to use you as an instrument of Christ's love, and mercy, and grace. 

Pray, earnestly pray, that your life will make a true and lasting impact on the lives of others... in the name of Jesus.

 

For Christ’s sake, and for His glory...

 

Amen. 

 

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