The Span of Our Influence (Luke 14:7-11)

The Span of Our Influence

Submitted by Andy McIlvain. 

Luke 14:7-11

In Luke 14:7-11, Jesus’s advice to his guests becomes a lesson about life in the Kingdom of God.

When Jesus spoke this parable, he knew by his deity and in his humanity how our sinful natures twist us to selfish preoccupation. All of us have felt the tug of self-exaltation. Bigger, better and greater, be famous, have your 15 minutes of fame, be number one; you deserve it. This is the mantra of our culture and the futile goal of much of humanity.

Jesus’ admonition to those who heard this parable was to take the lowest position and trust the Host to put you in the right position. What Jesus teaches in this parable is echoed throughout the New Testament. In Matthew, Luke, and John, we see Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. In Philippians 2:1-11, Paul reminds his readers to have the mind of Christ, who took on flesh, took up the cross, and humbled Himself to the point of death. Then in 1 Peter 5:6, Peter encourages his readers, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.”

In our lives right now, wherever you may be is your missional field, it is your span of influence: your job, in your retirement, your poor health, from the hospital bed. Humble yourselves. Take the lowest position. Do the hard and dirty work; wash someone’s feet while we have the opportunity.

Have you considered how you influence those around you, even those who have only monetary contact with you? How we act out our faith, how we behave, how our thinking is revealed by our actions has profound impact on the people and the world around us. Our span of influence is the time God has allotted to our lives. We appear out of nowhere and the unique personality, the consciousness that is you comes to maturity and passes through this world within the providential oversight of a sovereign and loving God. Your life is a vapor, here one moment and gone the next.

There’s not enough time to do everything we’d enjoy doing in life. As growing maturing Christians, there’s not enough time to do all the very good, spiritually helpful things we’d like to do. But there’s sufficient time for us to do what God gives us to do.

Theologian Francis Schaeffer reminds us: “Jesus commands Christians to seek consciously the lowest room. All of us—pastors, teachers, professional religious workers and nonprofessional included—are tempted to say, ‘I will take the larger place because it will give me more influence for Jesus Christ.’ Both individual Christians and Christian organizations fall prey to the temptation of rationalizing this way as we build bigger and bigger empires. But according to the Scripture this is back-wards: we should consciously take the lowest place unless the Lord Himself extrudes us into a greater one.”

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