In watching the Olympics this week, I have come to the conclusion that I’m actually glad I never became an Olympian. Every single thing these athletes do is, for better or worse, seen by millions (if not billions) of people. They can become heroes or villains in virtually an instant. The whole world may not be watching, but a ridiculously large part of it is. Obviously, most of us don’t have millions of people watching our lives. I often hear people say things like “no one cares what I think,” or “who cares what I do.” There seems to be this idea that the only people that can have impact and influence are those seen on our various screens. The reality is, however, that the actions of every single one of us can have a major impact on all those around us. Our positive behaviors can serve to brighten a day, teach an important lesson, or point someone to Christ. Similarly, our negative actions can cause hurt and turn people away from Christ. While this has been the case since time immemorial, the rise of social media has magnified it to an unprecedented degree. Now our words can be instantly seen by hundreds of people, with ramifications that are often much greater then we can imagine.
Long before the internet Jesus fully understood the power we all have to influence and affect others. Checkout these words from the Sermon on the Mount:
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16
Jesus’ audience would have understood the difficulty of hiding a city built on a hilltop. Most buildings in that day were entirely white, and would have been candlelit at night. The affect of the glow of candles and torches on the white buildings would have made cities visible from many miles away. Jesus’ point is that we can just as well hide from the world as a brightly lit city on a hill. No matter what we do people are going to see our words and actions and we will have an impact, either for good or for bad. As followers of Christ we need to ensure that our every word and deed shines for Christ. This means in our family life we strive to model Christ and make our entire family better. It means in our professional life that we do what is righteous, even though there are plenty of temptations to cut corners to get ahead. It means that in our free time we don’t take a vacation from following Christ, but boldly walk in his ways. We all need to realize that, like it or not, the word is always watching us. Let’s make sure that they are seeing Christ each and every time they turn an eye towards us.