Connect Lesson #101: Under the Influence by Jeremias Alicea
Scripture References: 1 Corinthians 13, 1 John 4:7-8, and 2 Peter 1
Overview (5-7 Minutes)
What does it mean to be “under the influence”? Most of us already know the answer because it’s usually associated with being under the “control” of alcohol or some other drug. However, being under the influence can also simply just mean being controlled by something or someone. YouTube and TikTok stars are often referred to as “influencers”, they are known for influencing people to do or buy things. Artists are keenly aware of the power of distraction, timing, and how it garners a captive audience. Deception, even if meant to be harmless, can influence people to do things they didn’t want to do. People can fall under the influence of things like demonic activity, religion, philosophies, secular humanism, atheism, and agnosticism, and even something as simple as being under the influence of anger which scripture says rests in the bosom of fools. The power of influence, be it through outside substances or emotional manipulation, can drive a person to do the unthinkable. Spiritual darkness can cause a person to act irrationally and do and say things that are unbecoming of a follower of Jesus Christ.
Still, we all make mistakes, and we’ve all said things we didn’t mean under the strain of emotional distress. We’ve all misinterpreted something someone said and let it burn in us until we spew foul things. That’s temporary and while it has the potential to cause major damage, it’s still different than operating out of the spiritual root of bitterness which entangles and entrenches the heart. Christ calls us to be under the influence of Love. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul, after speaking on the importance of spiritual gifts in chapter 12 begins speaking on the greater gift in which to operate: love. This chapter brings to the forefront much of what 1 John 4:7-8 says which is that if you know God, you know love because God is love.
Discussion Questions (15-20 Minutes)
Q#1: In what ways can we show God’s love to others, even when it’s difficult?
Q#2: How can we urge one another toward good works in the faith while working through love?
Life Application (5-7 Minutes)
Paul finishes talking about all of these valuable spiritual gifts in chapter 12, but then drops a bomb on them and says, if you don’t have love, you’re nothing. Some people brag about their spiritual gifts, talking about how anointed they are, boasting about their gift of discernment, how God uses them in their gifts and talents mightily, but treat people like trash. They lack mercy in the way they communicate correction. Saints, there has to be a better way and there is, it’s love. But how do you know if you’re operating under Love’s influence? Paul breaks it down like this: Love is patient and kind, it does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never ends. So do we grow to attain it…it all starts with faith. Peter says in 2 Peter 1 (with) all diligence, add to your faith virtue (behavior showing high moral standards.), to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. There it is. It begins with Faith in God which is Faith in love. Everyone that loves is born of God and knows God and He that doesn’t love doesn’t know God for God is Love! So love one another!