Skip to content ↓

The Influenced Will Be Like the Influencer

The Influenced Will Be Like the Influencer

We are easily influenced. It is a feature of humanity (and not a bug) that we learn best by example, by imitation. We are natural imitators and thrive on a combination of formal instruction and observable example. It is little wonder then that we cast about for teachers, for mentors, for people who can influence us, people we can imitate. All the while we know that we must find truthful and trustworthy influencers. With this in mind, we’d do well to hear Jesus’s back-to-back warnings about the power and perils of influence in Luke 6.

His first warning comes in the form of a miniature parable. “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit” (Luke 6:39)? Here we are to picture a blind man who needs to travel from one place to another. There were no guide dogs in Jesus’s day, no white canes, no sidewalks. The roads were unpaved and often scarred by holes and ruts. It was not easy to be blind and it was not possible to be independent and blind. This blind man needs assistance if he is to travel safely, so he cries out for help, then hears a friendly voice that replies, “I’ll help you.” So he takes the arm of this friendly stranger, and off he goes, not realizing that he has taken the arm of another blind man. No sooner have they set out than they stumble upon a pit and plunge in. “Can a blind man lead a blind man?” The answer is no, not if he wants to travel safely and arrive at his destination.

Jesus’s second warning comes in the following verse. “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). Today we learn by buying books and watching tutorials and listening to podcasts. But in that day the options were far more limited. If you wanted to be a learner, you needed to find a teacher. You needed to deliberately place yourself under the influence of a rabbi. You would follow him, knowing that the more you were with him, the more you would become like him. In fact, you knew you had been fully trained when you were fully like him. You would know everything he knows and behave just like he behaves. You would be a full-on imitator of this influencer. Naturally, then, you would want to be very careful that you chose a very good teacher.

But, of course, some people chose bad teachers. They followed bad guides. Jesus referred to the religious leaders of his own day as “blind guides” (Matthew 23:16). They were the blind leading the blind straight into the pit, straight into hell. He rebuked these same religious leaders for calling others to follow them, but then making them twice as much children of hell as themselves (Matthew 23:15). The people of Jesus’s day were suffering under the influence of untrustworthy teachers, spiritually-blind guides. They were following bad teachers and, not surprisingly, becoming bad themselves. Little wonder, then, that Jesus said, “follow me!” Little wonder, then, that he called them to follow him as the light of the world, as the one who gives sight to the blind, as the one who could safely guide them along the narrow path that leads to life.

We imitate Jesus by imitating people who are like Jesus.

Today, too, Jesus calls each of us to follow him. And wrapped up in the call to follow him is the call to follow those who are like him. We imitate Jesus by imitating people who are like Jesus. We are influenced by Jesus by being influenced by people who have themselves been influenced by Jesus. “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ,” said Paul (1 Corinthians 11:1).

In Jesus’s day students would become followers of a teacher they encountered in real life, someone they followed both literally and figuratively, someone they knew and were known by. Surely, then, they took very seriously the decision of whom they would follow. Today many of our influencers are people we may never know and who may never know us, and we take less seriously the decision of whom we will follow. We follow their books, their videos, their blogs. That’s well and good as far as it goes. But we do need to be aware that what was true then remains true now—a blind guide will lead his followers into peril and a student will become like his teacher. The influenced will become like the influencer in his convictions and in his character, in his beliefs and in his actions.

The application is obvious, isn’t it? We have the sober and sobering responsibility to be careful—so very careful—about who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we allow to influence us. For bit by bit, day by day, sermon by sermon, podcast by podcast, we will come to resemble the people we follow. For good or for ill, we will imitate them until we are like them.


  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    Weekend A La Carte (April 13)

    A La Carte: The pain of being single; the love that holds me fast / The Christian response to cultural catastrophe / The reduction of public Bible reading / All Things (a new song) / Why should I go to church? / and more.

  • Free Stuff Fridays (Moody Publishers)

    This giveaway is sponsored by Moody Publishers, who also sponsored the blog last week with Overflowing Mercies. Attention all Bible scholars, believers in the power of faith, and lovers of the Word! Learn about God’s divine mercy and compassion with our exclusive Bible Study Giveaway. Win the ultimate bible study library including Overflowing Mercies by…

  • How Should We Then Die

    How Should We Then Die?

    Euthanasia makes a lot of sense. At least in our culture at this time, it makes intuitive sense that those who are ill without hope for a cure or those who are in pain without likelihood of relief ought to be able to choose to end their own lives. Our culture assumes there are few…

  • A La Carte Friday 2

    A La Carte (April 12)

    A La Carte: Is God always pleased with Christians? / Southern Baptists debate designation of women in ministry / Good growth / Planted and rooted / Both worm and worthy / Scotland’s destiny and the rewriting of history / and more.

  • A La Carte Thursday 1

    A La Carte (April 11)

    A La Carte: 4 reasons why the Bible does not support transgenderism / Your elders will fail you / 25 questions a Christian woman should ask herself when a man starts to show interest / The same person in every room / Is the story of Job historical? / Book and Kindle deals / and…

  • The Sun Is Blotted from the Sky

    The Sun Is Blotted from the Sky

    Men of great physical strength have sometimes carried outrageously heavy burdens—six hundred pounds, seven hundred pounds, eight hundred. And even then they have said, “I still have not been fully tested. Put on some more weight! Load me up!” With confidence they have gripped the bar and with great straining and groaning they have lifted…