The word “influence” is derived from a Latin root meaning “to flow.” This “flowing” does not connote power, coercion or control, it suggests effortlessness. We want to influence people by being ourselves, where such creativity comes out of our community that people are drawn to it. Redemptive participation means that we do not hate the world, we are not protesting it, we are participating in it with a vision of the way of Jesus.”
We have come to the sixth and final characteristic of a creative minority. It is:
Participation – exerting redemptive influence: We can become confused and hesitant about our ability to influence because the culture wars have caused many people to dismiss Christians as hateful bigots. But redemptive participation isn’t about protesting about the world; it’s participating in the world as we live in the way of Jesus. The word influence means to flow and it points to a deep, gradual, sometimes imperceptible force that changes what it is near to. It is transformative. But it requires proximity and participation. He provides the examples of Sara Frazier Miller who moved into one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the US, in the South Bronx of New York; and of Ernest Gordon in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. But we don’t have to go far to be able to influence; we can just turn our attention to the seemingly mundane and ordinary among us, and realise we can have an impact right there.
Questions for Reflection
- How does what many people in our culture think about Christians affect you?
- What is your understanding of the word influence? How is your understanding affected by the fact its root meaning is ‘to flow’?
- Where are the ordinary and mundane places that you can have an influence?
Our next study will be the final one, with some reflection on the short epilogue about a faithful and fruitful presence, and on the book as a whole.