Jesus: The Original Great Influencer

by Rachel Bredow
I recently stumbled upon a clip from comedian Darren Harriott, where he discussed his nephew's aspirations of becoming an influencer. Despite claiming to not be religious, Harriott's description of Jesus as the "OG Influencer" was spot on.

“There is a difference between a creator and an influencer.  God created the sun, moon, and stars. Jesus didn’t create anything but he really promoted his Dad’s work. Jesus was the OG influencer. He had twelve people who followed him everywhere…in sandals…Jesus was also humble, not once did he use his influence to further his carpentry business.”

The term "OG" refers to the Original Great, the first expert in a field who is widely respected.
I would have to agree with Mr. Harriott. Jesus was the OG of Influencers. In fact, I would say he still IS. What other influencer do you know whose message has lasted thousands of years and is still transforming lives today?  Christianity went from 12 people to 10 million in just under 270 years* and that was almost entirely by word of mouth.

The message of hope and salvation that the Good News carries is living water for our parched souls. A message that most people don’t even realize they are thirsting for.  If the Gospel can spread that quickly by word of mouth, think about how much it could then spread exponentially faster in our tech-saturated world where most everyone is connected by the mere push of a button.

Some of us may be more connected online than others, but one thing can be said is true: we are all influencers in our own right toward those we interact with on a daily basis whether face-to-face or virtually.  As people who have been commissioned to carry the gospel message far and wide, it is important to reflect on and consider what message we are sending by what we say and do, and type.

After teaching confirmation these past years, one big takeaway from the catechism that I have is that Martin Luther does not let us off the hook. “Thou shalt not commit murder” Yes! I have that one in the bag! (Pat on the back to me) but no- he always has to follow up the commandments with a charge to help thy neighbor.  It is about what we should not do–murder/hate– and then what we SHOULD do–help and support our neighbor.  Do not: steal; Do: improve and protect our neighbor's possessions and income.  With the grace extended to us, we then extend that to others.  Just like the old song goes, “And they will know we are Christians by our love.”

I try to use this lens with my approach to influencing others. This is the question I always ask myself, “Does this honor others, myself, and God?”

This question can be carried to difficult conversations, disciplining my children, speaking to my husband, interacting with co-workers, playing sports, posting online, and everything in between. The thing that I have learned about using this approach is that it takes a lot of prayer, time in God’s Word, listening, and slowing down to carry out effectively.  So much easier said than done.

Honoring Others

We are all created in the image of God and uniquely gifted.  We have the creator inside of us and are dearly loved by our Father in Heaven.  We are reflections of His creativity and ingenuity. Our worth is not found in our abilities or our likes or our followers but in the fact that we are uniquely and wonderfully made by the Master of the Universe and the Author of Life. Do my thoughts, words, and actions toward others respect the Author’s creation? Am I viewing others and myself through that lens? It is a lot easier to do that when conversations happen face-to-face. When we see that other person as a creation of God, as a human being, we become gentler and humbler.

Honoring Myself

Do I view myself as one dearly loved? Do I view myself as a masterpiece? Is how I treat my body honoring its creator? I have a tendency to want others to be happy and like me. So I have to remember that if I am presented with a situation where I could acquiesce to the other person’s thoughts and feelings and ignore my own, that is not honoring myself.  When face to face, if I choose to not say a hard truth in love because I don’t want them to be hurt, that is not honoring myself or the other person. Honoring myself means acknowledging my dual identity as both a sinner and saint and approaching life with humility and courage.

Honoring God

To honor God means to believe that the Bible is HIS inerrant and infallible word and we live our life according to the path set out for us in scripture. We view the world as His creation and we view the truth of Christ’s death and resurrection as our means of salvation. And only by the grace of God can we set out to accomplish this knowing progress is attainable on this side of heaven and perfection is only attainable on the other side.  I am so glad we have the OTG –One True God–on both sides!
*Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church (AP&A, 1991)