Who do you think is the most influential person alive today?
If we were to assess influence by Twitter followers, the most influential people would be:
- Katy Perry • 66 million
- Justin Bieber • 61 million
- Barrack Obama • 56 million
- Taylor Swift • 54 million
- Lady Gaga • 44 million
If we were to, instead, assess a person’s influence by financial wealth, the most influential people would be:
- Bill Gates • $79.2 B
- Carlos Slim Helu • $77.1 B
- Warren Buffet • $72.7 B
- Amancio Ortega • $64.5 B
- Larry Ellison • $54.3 B
Each of these people along with other celebrities, business men and women, athletes and artists are incredibly influential. They seemingly possess the power to change culture, establish industries and transform nations.
With all of their influence combined, they don’t even stand a chance against the most influential Person of all time.
The Most Influential Person
Jesus has affected human history more than any person, nation, business or technology.
More than 2.1 billion people alive today worship Him as the resurrected God-Man. Almost another 2 billion believe in him in some manner or another but are not sure what or who to view Him as. An estimated 5 billion Bibles which detail His life, death and resurrection have been sold. Our dating of history is based roughly on his coming. Two of the biggest holidays in the world are celebrated in light of major events that He was involved in.
How did this working-class joe from a tiny, rural town in the Middle East become the most famous person in all of human history?
One of Jesus’ early followers, John, wrote a short biography about Jesus, detailing His life, teachings, death and resurrection. In the opening chapter, John wrote:
The Word became flesh
and made his home among us.
We have seen his glory,
glory like that of a father’s only son,
full of grace and truth.
In this description about the coming of Jesus, John highlights an often overlooked component of Jesus’ incarnation: in order for Jesus to reach, influence and transform humanity, He became like them.
Wouldn’t it have been strange if God came to us as a giraffe or a deer? Heck ya, it would! Thats one of the many reasons why He came in human likeness.
Take it once step further: what if Jesus showed up in the first century wearing thick-framed black glasses, a long-sleeved flannel shirt, skinny jeans with rolled-up ankle cuffs sitting atop a pair of brown boots all while holding a steaming cup of Stumptown coffee? Do you think His degree of influence would’ve been diminished because of how foreign His appearance was to the first century?
Notice that in order to reach and influence a certain generation of people, Jesus was clothed with many of the cultural norms of His day, walked similar paths as the people He’d meet all while embodying countercultural values.
This is one of many reasons why Jesus became the most influential person in human history.
The Most Influential People
As followers of Jesus, we are to do just that: follow Jesus. During one his most famous talks, Jesus encouraged His people:
You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.
Jesus told His people that they, His followers, are the light of the world. How would they be the light of the world? By their actions. Jesus profoundly points out that God chooses to work through His people to influence and reach those who are far from Him.
This doesn’t mean we have to have a Bible College degree or become a licensed minister to influence people for the Name of Jesus. It means that God has placed each of us in specific communities of the world in specific jobs and/or schools to connect with and influence those specific people we encounter every single day.
But how? Who could we possibly influence?
That person you serve coffee to every morning. That person who always rings you up at the grocery store. That person you sit next to in class. That coworker who drives you absolutely crazy! That leader you’ve blatantly badmouthed for years. That person you’ve ignored for far too long.
What if we as Christians looked at literally every single person we came in contact with as a person that God divinely and purposefully has placed in our lives? What if they were not simply someone you walk by or someone you order food from but as someone Jesus died and rose from the grave for?
God has given you far more influence than you can imagine, a platform far greater than millions of Twitter followers and a message far more significant and impactful than 140 characters could summarize.
Christians are not called to be idle bystanders while God radically transforms the world. We’re not called to sit back and enjoy the show of redemption that only pastors and ministers take part in.
Instead, we are all called to be proactively and passionately involved in what God is doing here and now to bring Heaven on earth.