The Mississippi Baptist Foundation  |  est. 1943  |  Psalm 24:1
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      Social media continues to grow in popularity and use as a strategy employed by companies to advertise their products or services while also seeking to increase public awareness of their brand and the accompanying advantages that may distinguish one company/product from another.  This tech-savvy advertising strategy is known as “Influencer Marketing” and, from my limited understanding, seeks to reach prospective customers by enlisting regular people who have a network of friends or “followers” across the spectrum of social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, blogs, etc.). More specifically, a Social Media Influencer may be defined as “a user on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry (and who) has access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and reach.” A similar description states “Influencers are…users who have an established credibility and audience; who can persuade others by virtue of their trustworthiness and authenticity.”
      Some key words/phrases from the definitions outlined above include: (1)established credibility, (2) access to a large audience, (3) persuade others by…their authenticity, reach, and trustworthiness. Thus, the success or failure of an influencer marketing campaign would seem to hinge on the power of persuasion that is based on both the quality of the influencer (credibility, authenticity, trustworthiness) and the quantity of people on which he or she has influence (reach).
      In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus used “salt” and “light” as metaphors to highlight the influential nature of his followers. Employing a borrowed outline, I would like to use “From Daniel’s Den”  over the next couple of weeks to elaborate on the nature of our Christian influence.
      Christians are to be Distinctive. To be distinctive means (1) to be noticeably different; (2) serving to identify as belonging to an individual or group; (3) a quality that helps to distinguish between people or things. God’s people and the people of the world represent two contrasting communities. When Christians accept Jesus’ call and commission to live noticeably different from the pattern of the world (Romans 12:1-2), they will be recognized as His followers and belonging to Him.
      The “You” in verses 13 & 14 (Matthew 5) are God’s people who are distinct from the world as the “salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.”  The world is in desperate need of salt that preserves and light that shines forth brilliantly and boldly. The world is decaying because of the prevalence of human rebellion and evil (the increasing number of murders in the metro area where I live, the school shooting in Uvalde, TX, and the recent abduction and killing of a young mother who was jogging in Memphis come to mind). The world also is full of darkness because people have refused the light of God to the point that they have grown accustomed to stumbling around in the darkness.
      Christians are influential people and our influence depends on our credibility, authenticity, and trustworthiness. God calls his disciples to be uniquely different from the world in order to help the world that is decaying and dark. Granted, we do exist “in the world” but we must refrain from being “of the world.” Concerning His followers, Jesus prayed “I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but to keep them out of the power of evil” (John 17:15).

      At the time of my graduation, the college that I attended did not use terms such as Cum Laude or Magna Cum Laude to recognize student achievement. Rather, those receiving high academic honors graduated “with distinction” and those receiving the highest honors were “special distinction” graduates. Because an “influencer” is “someone who affects or changes the way that people behave, Christians can have influence by living distinctively different – as “salt and light” – in a world that is decaying and dying without Jesus. Being distinct and different from the world is not easy. Nonetheless, when you are clad with the “whole armor of God” (Eph. 6:10-17) and “fix your eyes on the Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith” (Hebrews 12:2), others will take notice of your distinctiveness. They will see God’s presence in your life and be drawn to Him through you and your influence.

Dear Heavenly Father, May I live a life of special distinction as your child and as a testimony to the world. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight and serve to influence others to trust you and live for you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen.