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Time’s 100 Most Influential Shows God’s Working

Time Magazine announces 2016 top 100 influential people and shows the six cover options (Credit: TIME Magazine)Yesterday, Time released their annual list of the most influential people. And as you might expect, the usual suspects were on the list. But there were some interesting absences from the list.

Leonardo DiCaprio is on it, due to his leading voice on climate change. Mark Zuckerberg found a position with his befriending desire to connect the entire world. Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce, found herself on the list because of her courageous decision to come out and cross over. And Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson is there, with his combination of likability, creativity, and business acumen.  

But what about religious leaders?

Pope Francis made the list, which was about as expected as the sunrise. Mussie Zerai, a Catholic priest who has been called the Father to Refugees, also made the list. But other than those two, there were no other religious leaders. No Billy Graham, nor Rick Warren types.

The list ranges from the "globally famous to the literally anonymous." Time publishers, when describing their choices, note: "One way or another they each embody a breakthrough: they broke the rules, broke the record, broke the silence, broke the boundaries to reveal what we're capable of." Every person on the list "in their own way, have lessons to teach. We can debate those lessons; we don't have to endorse them or agree with them."

So should Christians be worried about the absence of their leaders, viewing this as a sign of waning influence? Or should we be unsurprised by this, seeing it as another manifestation of the media's hostility towards us?

I would submit that appearances are deceiving and there is great hope in the list. As C. S. Lewis writes in the Chronicles of Narnia series, Aslan is on the move. But his movement is only seen by those who have eyes to see.

Consider Lester Holt. You may know him as the NBC Nightly News anchor, but God knows him as son. Throughout his career, Holt has demonstrated faithfulness in his work and to his company—but also to his embattled predecessor, Brian Williams. In a dog-eat-dog world, where Holt's dream job was figuratively within reach, he refused to demean or degrade Williams. "If I may, on a personal note say, it's an enormously difficult story to report. Brian is a member of our family, but so are you, our viewers. We will work every night to be worthy of your trust." Holt's talent is a godly gift, but his character is the result of godly choices. An elder at Lester's church describes him as "a humble and loving Christian—a faithful member of our congregation who doesn't seek attention to himself." When attention is thrust upon him as he occasionally leads worship or offers remarks, elder Swearingen observes that his words and actions "are an inspiration to us all."

Or how about Kendrick Lamar. This rapper just released an acclaimed album entitled To Pimp a Butterfly. With hypnotic beats and keen insights to the human experience, Lamar weaves his struggles with God's word into his songs. "I'm the closest thing to a preacher that they have," Lamar said talking about his fans. "My word will never be as strong as God's word. All I am is just a vessel, doing his work."

Then there is Jordan Spieth. This golf phenom has taken the PGA by storm, and in doing so captivated our hearts and attention. His humility precedes him and his joy infectiously works its way through the television to our hearts. Tom Watson shared how Jordan was a regular at the PGA Bible studies. While there is no photographic proof of his attending such studies, there are plenty of videos that prove the fruit from those studies.

And finally, Steph Curry. His ability to make a three is similar to my inability to make a three—both inevitable. But Curry is not just making buckets; he is sharing Christ. Telling CNS News, "The Holy Spirit is moving through our locker room in a way I've never experienced before. It's allowing us to reach a lot of people, and personally I am just trying to use this stage to share how God has been a blessing to my life and how He can be the same in everyone else's."

Holt, Lamar, Spieth, and Curry may not be vocational pastors, but they are influential players making an eternal difference.   

In a world that is increasingly hostile to the faith, perhaps our greatest witness can be our excellence in our field. People may disagree with you about your sexual ethics, but they will not disagree with your adding of value to your organization. They may disagree with you about your understanding of when life begins, but they will not disagree that you have added life and vitality to the workplace due to your God-given skills and diligent work ethic.

Aslan is on the move but his footprints may be unseen (Psalm 77:19).

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