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Proximity=Influence

August 7, 2016 | PB | From the series: Swimming Against the Current

As we continue to discover important truths from the Book of Daniel, we find those principles apply to our lives in 2016. Today we discover a parallel with science that tells us how to be successful in life no matter the circumstances or people around us!

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Sermon Notes

Let’s start today with a science lesson. Who doesn’t like science? What causes the oceans tides? Gravitational pull of the moon and the sun. When the sun and the moon are aligned together, they pull more of the water of the earth’s oceans toward them and the tides are at their highest. These are called Spring Tides.

Anyone heard of the Bay of Fundy? It’s a long ocean bay along the coast of Maine into New Brunswick, Canada. Because of the way it’s laid out, the Bay of Fundy sees the largest differences between low tide and high tide. At the most inland point of the bay, the difference between low and high tide is about 50 feet, and that changes every six and a half hours.

It all happens because of gravity. The attraction between two big things.

One more and I promise I’ll stop the science. Here’s Newton’s formula for the force of gravity – F=G x (m1 x m2)/d^2  . That means that the attraction of gravity is limited by two factors, one more important factor, and how close they are.  Which affects the tides the most, the moon or the sun? Which is bigger? But the moon is closer.

Daniel 1:18-20 “Now at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore, they served before the king. 20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.”

When Daniel was taken to Babylon from Judah, he was a young man, likely a teenager. He was joined with a familiar group of three other friends: Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. In other words, he didn’t remain alone in the captivity, he joined himself to some other godly friends. When difficulty came, guess who he turned to? That’s right, these same friends.

Daniel 2:16-19 “So Daniel went in and asked the king to give him time, that he might tell the king the interpretation. 17 Then Daniel went to his house, and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, 18 that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven.”

Who and what you hang closest to will affect you most. Proximity = Influence.

So here’s Daniel in a very compromised position. His position is always tenuous, at best, considering how much danger the king or his enemies posed. But Daniel knew this: the way his life was going to be lived would require he be a) close to God and b) close to godly companions. He needed to put a distance between him and ungodly relationships.

As a matter of fact, Daniel’s three friends are called his companions in the English Bible. That word in the original language of Aramaic comes from a root word, chavar. It essentially means glued together. The proximity of those four men to each other and to God created an influential force that kept them godly, upright, and powerfully above the chaos of the world around them. They kept at a distance spiritually and emotionally ungodly people and situations so that they weren’t unduly influenced by those. Because no man is an island, you will be influenced by what you are in proximity to.

Proximity = Influence.

It’s not just people or the Lord we’re talking about here. Some of you are wondering why an old habit, addiction or just plain sin, regularly cleans your clock. A large part of the answer to getting free is this same principle: proximity = influence.

So say you had access to some equipment and you were able to dig a fairly large, deep hole in the ground. What would happen if, say, you dug it right near your house, in the yard. You know what would happen if you put no fence around it. You, one of the kids, the family dog, the neighbor’s dog or kids, the gas meter guy, somebody would end up in the bottom of that hole. Why? Because you put it way too close to you and people. But what if you dug the same hole in a far flung corner of Orleans County?  Right, you wouldn’t even think about it as far as your safety is concerned.

So what can we decide today that would make a positive difference in our lives?

  1. Decide you’re going to make a significant proximity change. Make it knowing full well that when you decide to get closer to one, you’ll be noticeably farther from others.
  2. Get in the gravitational field of God and godly people in a new way. It involves time, attention and doesn’t always mean that you get in proximity physically. At times in my life I’ve drawn close to great men of God through books and recordings, things like podcasts, etc. You can too.
  3. Distance yourself from triggers and opportunities to fall into old, sinful habits. If you don’t drive by that store, if you put a filter on your computer and locate it in an open place, whatever, you’ll be less influenced by them. The more open to your primary relationships you make that distance, the better.

You can be the godly influence someone needs if you’ll get closer in proximity to them. If we don’t get close to the broken, we can’t help them. Well, isn’t that the opposite of what you’ve been saying?

If you are in close proximity to and influenced by God and your godly relationships and they are primary for you – then you can get in proximity to someone who is desperately far from God and by the force of gravity begin to help them move in the right direction. You just have to decide who influences whom.

Proximity = Influence.

Get close to the right primary relationships, make them real. Then get close to the broken and be the gravitational force that raises the tide in their lives.