1 Peter 1:24,25 “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever”

     How often do we hang on the words of people that we admire (or feel that we should admire)?  It’s a common tendency for us to accept the views of people in positions of prestige, power or celebrity.  We accept their views not because they are based on sound reasoning or solid life experience but simply because we give their opinions weight due to the the esteem and position held by the speaker in our minds.

     Deborah King, a shaman and life coach (and celebrity no doubt) writes; “We often relate to celebrities more easily than to our own friends and neighbors. They have become the glue of our social fabric. We no longer stop in the village square or at the communal well to connect to each other. Instead, we use celebrities to feel connected.”  She concludes; “We are a fame-obsessed culture, but then, we have always been so; technology has simply made it easier. If you spend more time finding out which of your favorite stars went to dinner last night and who they went to dinner with, you may want to reexamine your own life. Is there anything missing from your life that you could better use that time to fill? Friends? Exercise?”

     Friends and exercise are necessary parts of a balanced life but not sufficient in themselves to provide the meaning that people long for in their lives.  Even if you can withstand the manipulation of the ‘big’ celebrities in the world we are often beset by the push and pull of the ‘little’ celebrities in our lives.  Anyone who is in a position of influence in your life can become a ‘little’ celebrity.    Little celebrities push into the driver’s seat of you life by subtle (or not so subtle) ways that work on your emotions.  Drama, demands made based on your fears, obligations or guilt as well as reward or punishment depending on compliance are all the tools of the trade for a ‘little celebrity’.  When these tools are used in any relationship the line between influence and manipulation is crossed.

     The difference between the infuence and manipulation is largely the motivation behind it.  We all influence our family and friends by our behaviours, attitudes and words.  Influence has no selfish agenda.  If there is an agenda behind the influence it is benign and allows for free choice.   Manipulation on the other hand always has an agenda behind it that seeks to serve the interests of the person doing the manipulation.  Manipulation always involves some sort of coercion.  Manipulators take away free choice.

     The Bible tells us that people will try to manipulate us; “And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you . . .” (2 Peter 2:3).  Yet, Jesus calls us openly and with no agenda other than to help us: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)  Jesus exposes the agenda of manipulators;  “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

     With a little common sense and healthy self esteem people go through life spotting the manipulation of both big and little celebrities in their lives.  What is hard to spot in this ever changing world is the constancy of our true friend.  The only solid rock in our lives that provides sure support is God’s Word.  Jesus will always be your truest friend and His words are always available to guide us through the toughest spots.  His Words never fail; “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

     In this season coming up to Christmas – let us remember He came for us – for you, for me and any desperate person. His only agenda is to help.  He gives rather than takes  He gives your mind  peace rather than fear;  “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)

     Let His Word be your lasting influence!

     Praise the Lord!