Under the Influence

by Brittney Chan


If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

James 1:5


I like listening to things when I drive. Whether it’s a podcast, preaching, or an audiobook; I feel like I have to have something to stimulate my thoughts during my daily commute. A little while ago, I started a new book written by an up and coming influencer. She claims to have a Christian background, and even mentions Pentecostal roots, so I thought, “Why not hear what she has to say?” Surely, I can process information and sift out ideas that don’t line up with my Biblical worldview.


I was no more than 20 minutes into the book, and I’d had enough! She was presenting this empowering notion to a presumably all-female audience that we needed to stop spending so much of our time serving others. Stop “putting ourselves out” by trying to live up to other people’s expectations. Stop finding our meaning in the titles “Mom,” “Wife,” “Daughter,” or “Woman.” And while I saw where she was coming from, and even agreed with one or two things she said, I couldn’t help but pay attention as the Holy Spirit dealt with me about the error in adopting this mindset.


I’m certainly not telling you anything you don’t already know: We live in a generation whose core value is to be self-serving. You don’t have to search very far to find someone striving to influence your everyday decisions. Whether it’s the ads you barely pay attention to while scrolling through your newsfeed, or it’s the people you follow promoting a new, revolutionary method of healthy living; there isn’t one of us that is exempt from worldly influences vying for our attention.


Can I geek out on you for a second? Okay, thanks. The human brain is definitely one of the most phenomenal things I’ve ever studied. Anyone that knows me can tell you that I love learning about the body and how it works. I respect what God created when He made Adam and Eve from dirt. It’s such a testament to His power and infinite wisdom! The brain (and then the rest of the body) works when brain cells, or neurons, talk to each other. Our nervous systems control everything from breathing to understanding the most complex, abstract thoughts.


There is a specific type of brain cell called “mirror neurons,” which were first discovered in the 1990s. Basically...scientists observed that the neurons firing when an animal watched someone do something were the same ones firing when an animal did it themselves. In other words, “Monkey see, monkey do.” Though simple and primitive, this motor planning discovery has proven useful in understanding human development and advancing rehabilitation processes. A child learns how to walk by first watching others walk. A stroke patient can begin to retrain the weakened side of their body by watching themselves perform motions with the stronger side. There is so much more to this theory, but can you see where this is going? Much of what we see influences what we do.


Having said that, I think it’s easy to see how this has a spiritual application, as well. The reason I quickly lost interest in that audiobook was because I understand that I have a personal responsibility to filter out the negative influences in my own life. Our souls and celestial standings with God are the most valuable things we can care about, so anything that threatens a healthy relationship with Him is something we can do without!

If it challenges our love for holiness, then it can change our heart towards Him.

When we grasp an understanding of that in itself, the way we think about “what we have to give up for Christ” or “what a sanctified life means” will begin to change. It will no longer be viewed as a chore to serve God but as our reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)


So beware of your soul’s adversary! He will try to make the importance of serving God fade and lose value. Consider the influences you submit yourself to on a daily basis and how they affect your spiritual environment.

Learning to evaluate the benefit that certain music, friends, entertainment, etc. bring to our lives is a sure sign of a maturing Christian.

Proverbs encourages us to seek after wisdom because by valuing it, we bring honor and value to ourselves. (Pro. 4:8)


Heavenly Father,

Thank You for loving us so abundantly that You gave the ultimate sacrifice to atone for our sins. Even in moments when we lacked wisdom and understanding, You have shown mercy. I pray that You would guide us into the truth of Your word and shine a light on the ways in which we can better serve You. Help us to value our salvation above all else!

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

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