Have you heard the saying, You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with? This principle applies to people we’ve never met as well. We might hear a new song, and suddenly we’re listening to every song by that artist. We may read a good book and start hunting for all the books written by that same author. Subconsciously, we let these ideas change our mindset. These people we’ve never met can really impact our minds and hearts!
The people (I’ve never met) who most deeply change my life are the ones who impact my Christian faith. A believer’s faith is the most important part of life – really, it is life. Once we believe in Jesus Christ and declare Him to be our Lord, the rest of our years on earth are spent maturing in that faith and becoming more like Jesus. So when someone teaches me more about God, I try to take it to heart.
I became a true believer at age 16. The first book I remember reading after that was Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot. It felt like she washed my mind clean and set it on its feet. Passion and Purity is the story of her five-year courtship with her first husband; but it’s more than an autobiography. It’s a collection of wisdom about Christian behavior, godly relationships, and day-to-day righteousness. Mrs. Elliot lived through what anyone would label as horrible circumstances, but she never faltered in her faith to the most faithful God.
Other Elisabeth Elliot books that I’ve read include Through Gates of Splendor and Keep a Quiet Heart. She wrote many more books, which I’ve not yet had the chance to read, but I can safely recommend all of them based on what I’ve already experienced.
C. S. Lewis
I grew up reading The Chronicles of Narnia, which hugely developed my imagination as a child. I recently re-read that series and was amazed all over again. Whether through a brilliant mind, divine inspiration, or a combo of both, Lewis packed profound theological truths into these simple, engaging children’s stories. He always said he didn’t mean to make The Chronicles of Narnia an allegory. This must mean that his Christian beliefs were so strong that they worked themselves into the narrative without much effort on his part. Which is even more amazing to me.
Other great books by C. S. Lewis include The Space Trilogy, The Screwtape Letters, Surprised by Joy (his personal testimony), and a more complex novel called Till We Have Faces.
I first heard Ravi Zacharias speak at a college student conference in 2016. As he stood with a hand in his pocket, eyes closed, reciting reams of memorized poetry to back up a Biblical point – I knew I was in the presence of a great and anointed man. I started listening to his “Let My People Think” series on RZIM.org. He was a masterful apologist who had simple, clear answers for the most complicated issues in our world. And he always kindly directed his audience’s eyes toward the Lord.
Other books that I’ve read by Mr. Zacharias are Jesus Among Other Gods and a book about marriage called I, Isaac, Take Thee, Rebekah.
Mrs. Butterfield explains her own testimony and Christian beliefs with an unflinching devotion to Gospel truth. Before she became a Christian, she was a successful English professor and author, living with her lesbian partner. Then she submitted her new life to Christ and let Him turn it upside down. She is passionate about living out the Gospel via a lifestyle of hospitality and loving others without judgment. Her books have challenged and changed my perspective on a variety of issues, as well as inspired me to use our home to bless others.
Her books include The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey Into Christian Faith; the sequel, Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ; and my favorite one, The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World.
I first heard Josh Garrels’s music when I was in college. His genre is listed as folk music, but he switches it up with his own unique sounds and even a few rap pieces. In his songs, he asks questions about faith, sin, death, and what it means to live for God. He makes his listeners think and usually leaves them refreshed.
My favorite albums of his are Lost Animals, Love and War and the Sea in Between, and Home.
What About You?
Who are the five people you’ve never met, but who have significantly contributed to your life? Who has encouraged you, taught you, or enlightened you? Who has asked a question that you’d never thought of before?