Tuesday, February 04, 2014


Fame and Influence

John Piper writes about C.S. Lewis:
It’s the difference between Matthew 6:1 and 5:16. To fame-seekers, Jesus says, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them” (Matthew 6:1). To influence-seekers, he says, “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 5:16).

I am looking forward to our National Conference on C.S. Lewis for lots of reasons. But one of them is to probe more deeply into why this man was so amazingly influential. And how might we be more influential for the glory of our Father because of what we learn?
Normally, I like Piper, but I find this annoying and irritating. In the first place, a blog post setting up a question and not providing an answer, purely to pimp a conference does not seek influence - it seeks promotion. The thing is logically in consistent.

But I sense more than a little rationalization in this differentiation between fame and influence. It is what influence is based in that matters. Lewis, frankly, sought neither in the sense that we seek them today. He sought truth, and he sought to communicate that truth. The influence and the fame took care of themselves.

Influence is, I think, of the Holy Spirit. It's the old, "You can lead a horse to water" thing. I can name countless individuals that have influenced me and perhaps no one else. Individuals that are smart, rooted in the Lord and just flat out good people. Moreover, I can name many individuals in influential positions (like college professor or preacher), preaching truth and reason with the same veracity and clarity that Lewis wrote it, and yet they have nothing like his influence. In fact, were Lewis working today, I think you would find him falling flat on his face.

Lewis' influence was a gift - pure and simple. To seek to replicate it is to remove the element of grace from the equation. It is to attempt to create by natural means that which was produced supernaturally. It is, in some sense, to put ourselves in God's place.

That's a problem.

Call it influence, call it fame - accept it if it comes to you, but seek it not for such comes with big ego problems.


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