I read a quote recently that said “Imagine living life so carefully that there are no signs you lived at all." I can’t get over it. I keep thinking about that quote. It stirs deep within me varying emotions. But the fact does remain that for most humanity eventually there will be no sign that you lived at all. Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return, right?
After I read that soul-stirring quote I did some research to find out who some of the most influential people in the world have been. Who has impacted our world, stirred our imaginations, and has been influential in bringing lasting change? Here is what I found from a variety of sources:
One source gave this list as some of the most influential in order of importance: 1. Muhammad 2. Isaac Newton 3. Jesus of Nazareth 4. Buddha 5. Confucius This is the top five of a hundred people list in The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History a 1978 book by Michael H. Hart.
Another source gave this list: 1. Jesus Christ 2. Albert Einstein 3. Isaac Newton 4. Leonardo Da Vinci 5. Aristotle 6. Muhammad 7. Galileo Galilei 8. Alexander the Great 9. Charles Darwin 10. Plato 11. William Shakespeare 12. Martin Luther King, Jr. 13. Socrates 14. Mahatma Gandhi 15. Abraham Lincoln 16. George Washington 17. Moses 18. Adolf Hitler 19. Nikola Tesla 20. Gautama Buddha 21. Julius Ceasar 22. Karl Marx 23. Martin Luther 24. Napoleon Bonaparte 25. Johannes Gutenberg
Those arranging these lists above were secular thinkers and so I turned my attention to what the Bible defines as people of influence who made an impact on our world. Hebrews 11 came to mind. Men and women of influence who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouth of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection…
Men and women of faith are among the most influential people of the world since they affect not only the secular but also the eternal. These people have a simple faith, humble obedience, and an untiring passion for service.
So whether you are blazing short lived star like Jim Elliot who was martyred in Ecuador or a plodding marathon worker like Brent Elliot his brother who started 150 plus churches in Peru, be a faithful steady light for the gospel while you live. Maybe your face will not be chiseled into mountain stone, a monument erected to honor your life, or a museum established to publish your accomplishments, but you can be assured that if you follow Jesus in simple faith and obedience that long after you are gone there will still remain the effects of your contribution.
—Harold R Troyer