We should all strive to live contagious Christian lives, notable for their godliness. So how do you live such a life? Here are three prerequisites:
First, you must be a Christian.
You might think that goes without saying, but it is very possible to attempt to live the Christian life without first settling the question of whether or not you are indeed a Christian.
If you were raised in a church, the error of assuming you are a Christian will be particularly easy to fall into. Everyone around you acts a certain way, so you act that way, too. Everyone around you says certain things about Jesus, so you say them, too. It is the only way of life you have ever known. But you do not become a Christian by saying and doing the things you see Christians doing; you become a Christian only when you wholeheartedly repent of sin and place all your hope, trust, and faith in Jesus Christ.
If you were not born in a church but joined one later in life and haven’t been properly taught about justification by faith, you may think that acting like a Christian is the way to become a Christian. So before we talk about how to live a contagious Christian life, we must each ask ourselves, am I really a Christian? We can’t even begin to live the life of contagious Christianity until we, by the Holy Spirit’s grace, put all our trust in Jesus Christ and surrender ourselves to him.
Although it is an essential part, being a Christian isn’t simply a matter of confessing Christ as Savior. It is also becoming totally dependent on Christ’s grace. That Christ is the only Savior and Lord is an objective truth. But true Christians have this objective truth subjectively applied to their minds and hearts. Not only do they confess this objective truth; they have also experienced in their own lives the misery they were in because of their sin, the deliverance afforded to them by a willing and able Savior, and the gratitude and joyful service that flows out of that deliverance. Objective truth (truth “out there”) becomes a subjective reality (truth “in the soul”) that is fostered by spiritual disciplines.
Second, you must use the spiritual disciplines.
Spiritual disciplines can be divided into four categories. The first category is private disciplines, such as reading and searching the Scriptures, meditation on biblical truths, private prayer, and journaling. The second category is domestic disciplines, such as family worship and godly conversation. The third is corporate disciplines, which include making diligent use of the preached Word and of the sacraments, seeking fellowship in the church, and sanctifying the Lord’s Day. Fourth are neighborly disciplines, which include evangelizing and serving others, working for the well-being of God’s kingdom, fleeing worldliness, and exercising stewardship over time and money.
When Christians exercise spiritual disciplines conscientiously and prayerfully, they grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. He works in them what they need to truly live and grow as Christians. With that growth, the reality of Christianity breaks forth in godly fruit-bearing, which then becomes evident to everyone around them.
Third, you must develop an evangelistic heart.
Such fruit-bearing is the beginning of a blessed and contagious Christian life. We begin to love others with the same kind of love that we received from God. We yearn for the spiritual welfare of others. We view every unconverted person as a mission field. We long to bring the gospel to unsaved people wherever we meet them. Hopefully, we love people so much that we learn to approach them as individuals. Sometimes that means using varied approaches in bringing the gospel. For one person, we may use the invitational approach of the Samaritan woman (John 4); for another, the testimonial approach of the blind man in John 9; for another, the convicting approach of Peter (Acts 2); for another, the intellectual approach of Paul (Acts 17); and for yet another, the service approach of Dorcas (Acts 9). Sometimes we will be drawn to use a combination of these approaches. All of these approaches depend on the character and need of the person as well as the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Contagious Christian Living
Joel R. Beeke