In this series, we have been learning about relationships and the purposes God had in mind when He created them.
In Genesis 2:18, The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Since the beginning of the world, it has been better to be in community than to be alone. Even if you are the strongest person you know, at some point, the weight of life can be too much for any one person to bear. But being with other people makes you stronger!
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, 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.Philippians 3:12-14
The Apostle Paul writes these words to encourage the church of Philippi. Concerning the relationships in our lives, we need to evaluate their roles relative to how we are pressing on toward Christ and the life that He has for us. To demonstrate this, Pastor Ricky had a car on stage today to demonstrate three positions that other people can take in our lives.
1. Shotgun - Who is influencing you the most?
The shotgun or front passenger seat is the next best seat next to the driver. That passenger has access to control the stereo, the air conditioner, the locks, and the windows, and she has influence over the driver. So as you view your windshield, is your view clear? Where are you going? Is your shotgun passenger influencing you toward God or away from Him? Is that person helping to clear your path or fog your windshield?
The Apostle Paul gave a warning to the church of Corinth, which was being influenced by many conflicting beliefs of the people around them.
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; 1 Corinthians 15:33-34a
You can know if someone’s influence on you is bad because there will be side effects of the relationship: maybe you are slipping in your prayer life, reading your Bible, attending church, seeking God, or focusing on worldly things. Is there someone in your life who is fogging up your windshield and causing you to head in the wrong direction?
Don’t be afraid to identify a name! If this is a friend, a coworker, a classmate, a girlfriend, a boyfriend, or even a fiance, pull the car over and let the person out. Don’t let your windshield be fogged up by someone else’s influence! (And if that person is your spouse, that means you are in a covenant relationship with that person and should seek counsel and professional help in how to proceed!)
2. Backseat - Whom am I influencing?
According to Romans 10:9, if you declare with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. We also know from 1 John 1:9 that if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
These verses give us the definition of a Christian - not of a perfect person, a church staff member, or someone who has it all figured out. Even as Christ followers, we are still in the world and surrounded by other people who need Christ’s love, forgiveness, and salvation just as much as we do. So Jesus also gives us very clear instructions about not leaving our car’s backseat empty.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
In other words, whom are you bringing into the kingdom? To whom are you introducing Jesus for the first time? Whose life needs the love, compassion, and forgiveness of Jesus? Somebody should be sitting in that back seat when you come to church - it’s a matter of life and death.
3. Sideview Mirror - Who is sitting next to you?
At every Rock campus, there are people who arrive late, sit alone, and leave early. If that is you, you are missing out on the real meaning of the word, church! Jesus’ church is not a building or an event, but His people, which means that as a member of the church, you need to be in a relationship with other believers and participating in the community and ministry of the church.
If you are willing to check those side mirrors, you may be surprised to find somebody sitting nearby who can change your life! Maybe the people next to you have struggled with the same things that you do. Maybe they can support you, pray for you, encourage you, and make a difference in your situation. Look at what the book of Acts has to say about the first community believers
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Acts 2:42-45
The Book of Proverbs also tells us that we need each other to grow and change: As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
We need each other! If you’re only watching messages online or you’re attending a service and trying to get in and out as fast as possible, you are missing out on the friendship, fellowship, and conversation that could be life-changing for you and for someone else. Next time you attend service and are dismissed at the end, stand up and smile. Grab a cup of coffee and introduce yourself to someone!
Pastor Ricky challenged us to ask ourselves these three questions and reflect honestly.
- Who is influencing me?
- Whom am I influencing?
- Who is right beside me whom I haven’t noticed because I’m focused on myself?
Use the three positions in the car (shotgun, backseat, and side view mirror) to spark some thought about your current relationships. What needs to change? Make a decision today to step closer to God and impact the spiritual influences in your life!