Under the influence is defined as, “the act of driving a motor vehicle with blood levels of alcohol in excess of a legal limit” or “an altered state of consciousness, attained through the ingestion of psychoactive drugs.” The phrase, “under the influence,” has a negative connotation. It automatically brings up images of a drunk driver swerving all over the road or a psychedelic hippy tripping on mushrooms or LSD. But in the realm of Christianity, it has a whole new meaning. The truth of the matter is, as Christ followers, we are all “under the influence.”
The influence of the Holy Spirit.
I can honestly say that I have never been under the influence of alcohol or a psychoactive drug. I once had my wisdom teeth removed, but that was way before it was cool and funny to video your family saying and doing crazy things while coming out of the anesthesia, so there is no proof of my ever being in an “altered state.” However, there is one thing I do know that is common to every “under the influence” situation…a change of personality. Those under the influence always act differently then they would in their original state of mind.
The Holy Spirit has the power to influence us, the power to change how we live, what we say, and what we do. It transforms us from being the self-centered sinners we all are at birth, and makes us the Christ-centered followers we all long to be. Before I accepted Christ in middle school, my sin of choice was cussing. As a sixth grader, I could hold my own with any sailor’s salty tongue. When I accepted Christ, the Holy Spirit made me aware of the lack of control I had over my tongue. Through the working of the Holy Spirit, I have been able to gain control over what once controlled me (and now I almost never cuss).
That got me thinking about the differences that should be evident in each of us as we allow the Holy Spirit to influence and change us. We have all witnessed it…the power from within that has reworked us from those persons we were when we first accepted Christ; to the spiritual giants we all are now.
That altering of personality happens in all believers and is an ongoing process. It is a process that creates exciting opportunities for Christ to be glorified and also for God’s power to be revealed.
So the question I have for each of us is, how are we cultivating that relationship with the Holy Spirit? We should be placing ourselves under His influence on a daily basis. The choices we make have the power to draw us closer to that influence. But, sadly, our choices also have the power to pull us away from that influence. We cannot do true life-changing ministry without Him! We need more of Him!
My prayer is that the next time you see that story in the news about a driver under the influence, or that drug addict who dared to get behind the wheel; you will be reminded that they chose to be under the wrong influence. I pray it will prompt you to stop for a moment and thank God for calling you to be under the daily influence of His Holy Spirit. I pray that God uses you to influence others for the sake of Christ and that you realize your ministry is of high value to the Kingdom of God! You are a difference maker!
Joel Morgan serves as the Student Pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Pace,FL. He holds degrees in Physical Education and Biblical Studies from Union University in Jackson, TN; and a Masters of Arts and Religious Education from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, TN. Joel has served with churches in TN, SC, and FL with 20 plus years of experience and serves on the SDEA Student Pastor Advisory Team. Joel is married to Rita, and they have four children. Caleb (19), Eli (16), Anna Catherine (13), and Ben (11). He loves to spend time with family and friends, watch movies, and collect sports memorabilia. You can connect with Joel at firstname.lastname@example.org.