Join our mailing list

Our Influence - 2 Corinthians 6, Matthew 5

A service plan addressing the dilemma that Christians face concerning their relationship with the world around them. Part of a series of sermons pairing together some of the seemingly irreconcilable paradoxes in the Christian faith.

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

Reviewing "Worship Pairs"

This is now our third week of "Worship Pairs." Our intent is to deal with matters that seem irreconcilable or paradoxical, and to provide the building blocks for worship services that will aid God's people in achieving a sense of balance between these two matters.

In the previous two weeks we provided these pairs:

Prayer (Jan. 16):
"God Isn't Answering," Psalm 10; Psalm 13
"Prayer Changes Things," James 5:13-18

Our Beliefs (Jan. 23):
"I Believe the Bible Is True," 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21
"Sometimes I've Had to Change My Convictions," Acts 10:34-48

This week we present a pair of services that focuses on the relationship of the Christian to the surrounding culture and how our influence is to be felt:

Our Influence (Jan. 30):
"Christians Need to Be Different," 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1
"Christians Need to Be in the World," Matthew 5:13-16

For next week you can anticipate a pair that will focus on the emotions Christians express. Are we to be joyful all the time? Do we sorrow? May we cry out?

Our Joy (Feb. 6):
"Sometimes Christians Are Broken," Psalm 34:17-18; Psalm 51:17
"Christians Should Be Happier," Luke 15:5-7, 9-10, 22-24

Once again we remind you of several vital considerations. Our aim is to identify some of the dilemmas that Christians face so we can aid them in living with a balance of issues that can sometimes seem antithetical to each other. It is ideal to schedule both of these on the same Sunday, morning and evening; if that is not possible the services can be scheduled on succeeding weeks. Also, a clear and repeated explanation of your intent is necessary to avoid any possibility of serious misunderstanding. And each worship service should be a whole in and of itself.

Suggestions for Two Sermons

This third "Worship Pair" deals with the dilemma that Christians often face concerning their relationship with the world around them. Do we stand over against the world and condemn it as fallen and evil? Do we aim for an escape in a way that allows us to live out our lives in isolation from it? Do we wait and pray for the day when Christ will return and rescue us from it? May we accommodate ourselves to much of it? Or are we obligated to influence and change it? These are constant and pressing questions for the committed Christian disciple.

Sermon #1 - "Christians Need to Be Different"
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1

Ideas for Sermon Development:

1. In their stimulating book Resident Aliens, Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1989) tell the story of when one of their parishes was next door to a synagogue. One day over coffee the rabbi remarked, "It's tough to be a Jew in Greenville. We are forever telling our children, 'That's fine for everyone else, but it's not fine for you. You are special. You are different. You are a Jew. You have a different story. A different set of values.' " After some thought, the pastor said to the rabbi, "You are probably not going to believe this, but I heard very much that same statement made in a young couple's church school class right here in Bible-belt Greenville, the other day" (p. 18). Who of us has not heard it from our parents, said it to our children, and with some regularity? Yet we may wonder if this perspective is considered as seriously as a generation ago.

2. Is it possible that such a viewpoint is increasingly unpopular with many Christians today? Is there something about middle-class values that desires acceptance more than distinctiveness? Do we consider folks who desire distinctiveness somewhat narrow-minded and a bit of a novelty? (Think of the Amish.)

3. Paul gives a clear warning about the matter to Christians in a morally, spiritually, and ethically hostile Corinthian society. Though these words from chapter 6 are most often used in connection with religiously mixed marriages, Paul obviously is thinking much more broadly. In opening up his message from these verses, several considerations should be primary:

  • He speaks to the Corinthian believers as those who have a special identity before God-"temple of the living God," "my people" (6:16).
  • "Perfecting holiness out of reverence for God" (7:1) is the shaping thought.
  • A lack of commonality, harmony, fellowship, or agreement exists between those who love the Lord and those who don't (6:14-16).
  • Paul quotes from the OT experience of the people of Israel (6:17-18) to remind them of the lesson their forefathers had to learn that a God-given identity must be protected.

Paul repeats similar exhortations in many of his epistles that can readily be used as supportive passages.

4. What does it mean for us when the baptism form says that we have been "set apart as God's own children"?

5. Where must our distinctiveness be most apparent? Our beliefs? Our cultural traditions? Our purpose and goal in living? Our ethics and values? Our friendships and relationships? All of these? We must be stimulated to explore this far-reaching question.

Sermon #2 - "Christians Need to Be in the World"
Scripture: Matthew 5:13-16

Ideas for Sermon Development:

1. Worshipers should be able to identify the different perspectives that many Christians have taken to shape their relationship with the world-condemnation of it, escape from it, rescue from it, accommodation to it, impact on it, etc. Illustrations can be used to reveal how strains of each of these are present with us all the time.

2. Christ used four "word pictures" to describe our need to influence the world-salt, light, seed, and yeast. There are remarkable similarities in the elements that each carries into this discussion: all are small and carry influence much larger than one would first expect (a surprise), all have great capability for significantly changing the environment (power), all tend to be placed in a somewhat hostile or negative environment that is in need of aid (a risk), and all require penetration and involvement with the area that needs to be influenced (a challenge). Even though Matthew 5:13-16 is the Scripture reading, it would be wise to supplement it with the readings that use these other metaphors. (Check Matt. 13:3, 24, 33 and others).

3. The methodology of Jesus' ministry shows him willing to engage in relationships with those whom others avoid-lepers, "sinners," tax collectors, outcasts, etc. What does this have to teach us? What can the Christian church learn from these figures of speech and examples from Jesus about its relationship with society?

4. John Stott cited the research of Robert Bellah, a sociologist at the University of California at Berkeley, from an article in Psychology Today in which he said, "We should not underestimate the significance of the small group of people who have a new vision of a just and gentle world. The quality of a culture may be changed when 2 percent of its people have a new vision" ("Christians: Salt and Light," Preaching Today, No. 109). What does this have to say about the impact a Christian congregation can hope to make?

5. A congregation should consider ways in which it is presently making an impact, and should be challenged to consider new opportunities that are present. (See suggestions for the liturgy.)

Suggestions for Music

You will find here suggestions for congregational song, instrumental music, and choral anthems for both of these services on the theme of our Christian life and its influence.

Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:
PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Reformed Church in America,
Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great
Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

Congregational Song Suggestions:
"Beyond the Beauty and the Awe" (ST. FLAVIAN) SNC 75
"Bring Forth the Kingdom" SFL 154, SNC 123
"Built on a Rock" (KIRKEN) PsH 503, TH 351, TWC 705
"Father, Help Your People" (WHITWORTH) PsH 607
"Guide Me, O My Great Redeemer" (CWM RHONDDA) PH 281, PsH 543, RL 50, TH 598, TWC 634, UMH 127
"O Jesus, I Have Promised" (NYLAND) PH 389, PsH 285, RL 471, TH 654, TWC 648, UMH 396
"Stir Your Church, O God, Our Father" (MADILL) TWC 718
"Take Us As We Are, O God" (ENDLESS FEAST) SNC 125
"The City Is Alive, O God" (STOKESAY CASTLE) PsH 597, RN 89
"When the Church of Jesus " (KING'S WESTON) SNC 265, TWC 722, UMH 592
"Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life" (GERMANY/GARDINER) PH 408, PsH 602, RL 482, UMH 427
"Will You Come and Follow Me" (KELVINGROVE) SNC 267

Instrumental Music Suggestions:

CWM RHONDDA ("Guide Me, O My Great Redeemer") PH 281, PsH 543, RL 50, TH 598, TWC 634, UMH 127

  • Barr, John G. Three Preludes on Hymn Tunes. H. W. Grey GSTC 01079 [1992] (E-M).
  • Carlson, J. Bert. A New Look at the Old. Augsburg 11-11009 [1999] (E-M).
  • Haan, Raymond H. Welsh Hymn Tune Preludes. SMP KK426 [1989] (E-M).
  • Held, Wilbur. Those Wonderful Welsh, set 2. Morningstar MSM-10-842 [1992] (E-M).
  • Hobby, Robert A. Three Hymns of Praise, set 6. Morningstar MSM-10-542 [2000] (E-M).
  • Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 6. SMP KK339 [1986] (E-M, adaptable for piano).
  • Manz, Paul. God of Grace. Morningstar MSM-10-599 [2004] (M).
  • Manz, Paul. Ten Chorale Improvisations, set 5. Concordia 97-5257 [1974] (M).
  • Rotermund, Melvin. Five Preludes. Augsburg 11-6040 [1990].


  • Shackley, Larry. Celtic Hymn Settings for Piano. Hope 8117 [2001] (E-M).
  • Wilhelmi, Teresa. Hymns . . . Light Jazz Style. Word 301 0136 315 [1997] (E-M).


  • McChesney, Kevin. God of Grace and God of Glory. Concordia 97-6584 [1996] (3-5 octaves, M).

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:

  • Cherwien, David. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000].

GERMANY/GARDINER ("Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life") PH 408, PsH 602, RL 482, UMH 427

  • Bish, Diane. The Diane Bish Organ Book, vol. 1. Fred Bock B-G0548 [1980] (E-M).
  • Edmundson, Garth. Seven Classic Preludes on Old Chorals. Fischer F.E. 7466 (M, out of print).
  • Jordan, Alice. Worship Service Music for the Organist. Broadman 4570-27 [1975] (E-M).
  • Whitford, Homer. Five Choral Paraphrases, set 1. H. W. Grey [1941] (E-M).

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:

  • Goode, Jack C. Thirty-four Changes on Hymn Tunes. H. W. Grey GB 644 [1978].

KING'S WESTON ("When the Church of Jesus") SNC 265, TWC 722, UMH 592

  • Burkhardt, Michael. Praise and Thanksgiving, set 3. Morningstar MSM-10-753 [1990] (E-M).
  • Johnson, David N. Easy Trios. Augsburg 11-9291 [1969] (E).
  • Powell, Robert J. Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart. Augsburg 11-10478 [1994] (E-M).
  • Schaffner, John Hebden. Organ Music for the Seasons, vol. 2.Augsburg 11-11010 [1999] (E-M).


  • Gramann, Fred. Fantasy on "King's Weston." Agape 1671 [1994] (3-6 octaves, D).

Alternative Harmonizations for Organ:

  • Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001].
  • Egger, John. Creative Hymn Accompaniments for Organ, vol. 2. CPH97-6851 [2000].

KIRKEN ("Built on a Rock") PsH 503, TH 351, TWC 705

  • Childs, Edwin T. Organ Music for the Seasons, vol. 3. AugsburgFortress ISBN 0-8006-7564-9 [2003] (M).
  • Hobby, Robert A. Three Hymns of Praise, set 2. Morningstar MSM-10-757 [1994] (E-M).
  • Manz, Paul. Ten Chorale Improvisations, set 8. Concordia 97-5342 [1979] (M).
  • Peeters, Flor. Hymn Preludes for the Liturgical Year, vol. 10. Peters 6410 [1966] (M).


  • Helman, Michael. Built on a Rock. Alfred 19006 [2000] (3-5 octaves, level 3).

Alternative Harmonizations for Organ:

  • Johnson, David N. Free Harmonizations of Twelve Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-9190 [1964].
  • Wood, Dale. New Settings of Twenty Well-Known Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-9292 [1968].

NYLAND ("O Jesus, I Have Promised") PH 389, PsH 285, RL 471, TH 654, TWC 648, UMH 396

  • Below, Robert. Organ Music for the Seasons, vol. 2. Augsburg 11-11010 [1999] (E-M).
  • Page, Anna Laura. Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Boardman 4570-46 [1981] (E-M).
  • Sedio, Mark (1988). Augsburg Organ Library - Epiphany. Augsburg 11-11073 [2001] (E-M).
  • Wood, Dale. Seven Folk Tune Sketches. H. W. Grey GB 357 [1966] (E-M).

Alternative Harmonization for Organ

  • Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 3.Ludwig O-10 [1986].

ST. FLAVIAN ("Beyond the Beauty and the Awe") SNC 75

  • Goode, Jack. Prelude on Hymn Tunes. Hope [1965] (E-M).

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:

  • Busarow, Donald. Thirty More Accompaniments for Hymns in Canon. Augsburg11-10163 [1992].

Additional Handbell Resource:

  • Sherman, Arnold B. The Journey. Agape 1897 [1997] (3-5 octaves, level 3+).

Mixed Voice Choral Anthem Suggestions:
Bell, John L. The Summons. GIA G-5410 [2000] (two-part with opt. flute and
congregational refrain, E).
Hopp, Roy. May I Love You, Lord. Augsburg 0-8006-7541-X [2002] (SATB, E-M).
Nickel, Larry. Come Unto Me. Goliard Press GP92113 [1992] (SATB, with instrumental
descant, E).
Rutter, John. Lord, Make Me an Instrument of Thy Peace. Hinshaw HMC-470 [1980]
(SATB, M-D).

Children's Choral Anthem Suggestions:
Colvin, Tom, and Hal. H. Hopson. Fill Us with Your Love. Agape HH3923 [1984]
(unison/two-part, E).
Lord, Suzanne. Do You Know Your Shepherd's Voice? Choristers Guild CGA673 [1994]
(two-part, E-M).

Suggestions for Liturgy

1. These services require multiple Scripture readings. Passages which speak of the theme of each service can readily be located in the Old and New Testaments. We suggest finding a few carefully selected passages to supplement the text for the sermon. Include lay readers for each passage so each one can be heard in a different voice.

2. Perhaps members of the congregation are ready to provide reports/testimonies on ways in which Christian witness and service has impacted a certain need in the community or society. Let vivid examples of Christian service be very visible during this pair of services. It is also an excellent time to recruit volunteers to commit themselves to some new form of ministry and also to private and personal ministry efforts.

3. The contemporary testimony Our World Belongs to God has many passages that can readily be included with great benefit in the liturgy. Consider articles 1, 6, 32, 44, and 45.

4. Both of these services would benefit from carefully chosen words of exhortation from Scripture at the end of the service. You will find many suggested resources on pages 351-360 of The Worship Sourcebook(Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Faith Alive Christian Resources, and Baker Books, 2004).