Cholera is feared because it is contagious. If cholera’s ability to infect were to be eradicated, then that which caused panic among people would no longer be a threat. The standards established for disinfection would become superfluous, and the hospital wards that were established for cholera could be closed.
Early Christianity was also contagious – extremely contagious. It spread with a never-before-seen rapidity, overcoming all attempts to subvert it. Within Christianity itself, there was such a strong element of contagiousness that all measures to stem it did not work.
Christianity spread rapidly. In Jerusalem, in one day, three thousand persons were gripped by its power, and died to sin to live righteous lives. Upon the appearance of Christianity, similar things occurred as were seen during cholera epidemics.
Towns, which until then had quietly lived in sin, experienced a spiritual upheaval when the news that Christianity had shown itself inside their walls became known. People ignored and separated themselves from those who had become Christians. No one wanted to associate with them. Their names were made known to the whole town, and measures to control this “epidemic” were instituted.
When a person had become a Christian, everyone soon knew. The symptoms were readily visible, because at that time, the words of the Lord were applied in all earnestness in reference to self-denial, the narrow pathway to heaven, separation from the world, and the necessity of bringing the Gospel to all before the Day of Judgment comes. Early Christianity was so powerful and infectious that all sinners felt personally threatened. They could no longer live calmly in their sins. Whether they liked it or not, they were now confronted with the serious question of life or death.
Because this early Christianity was disastrous to sin, those who lived wrongly brought forth and vented their hatred. However, Christianity was so infectious that many of those who wanted to destroy it came too close to it and were also infected. They too found new life and then began spreading this message.
What scenes of upheaval followed these first Christians! The Book of Acts is full of them. There are at least twenty tumultuous accounts recorded. Town after town experienced rioting. Their streets and buildings were full of angry people demanding that these Christians, “who have turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6), be driven out, as they were threatening to destroy their unrighteous businesses. We see soldiers carrying a man above the crowds that are trying to kill him, while others are thrown into jail. One person is stoned to death while he kneels and prays to God.
And why? Because the devil sees his domain threatened. This new religion tears people out of his clutches because it cleanses them of their sins. Such a religion is contagious.
A religion that brings salvation can be the only contagious religion, and it is the only one that the devil fears. It is also the only one against which the devil is waging a war. He leaves all other religions unscathed because no better fighters exist than those of a dead religion. On what grounds is this “bacteria” based, that it gives this one religion the power to win souls for God, without Whom they would be dead and unfruitful?
It is grounded in the “fire” with which Jesus promised He would baptize His disciples. It is the power from above with which He said they would be endowed. It is that godly power that we get with a total commitment to God. It is life!
Throughout the whole world, only life is able to beget life. Researchers agree that dead matter is unable to produce life. Only those who carry the cells for a certain disease are able to pass it on to others. It is the same for the spiritual life – only those who possess contagious life can bring forth contagious life.
How many unproductive spiritual efforts consume much energy but do not bring about any honest changes in a person! The contagious effect is missing. The life from God is not there. What we need in our time is a religion that is contagious through its joy, love, peace, power, and light. This contagiousness shows the sinful world that there is another world – a world of joy, peace, healthy spiritual life, and a place where the now peaceful soul can experience the nearness of God. We need a religion that is contagious everywhere: in the work place, on the street, in the office, on the subway, and in the worship service.
We need to show the world this new life. Living souls must come into contact with dead souls and through this contact pass on the heavenly disease. Could there be anything more stirring in the world as that of saved souls singing for their God and testifying about what He has done for them?
Satan will use all means available to him to disinfect us. From one angle, he will use the world, and from another angle he’ll use false Christianity to separate us and hamper us from our total submission to Christ, from our willingness to sacrifice, and to dampen our eagerness, holy boldness, and assertive spirit. He will attempt to take the contagious power of your religion and bring you down to the same level as the large mass of “respected” people who live in peace with the world and let it go to ruin in its sins. He wants to make you into the people of whom God said: “I will vomit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16).
“God, make our religion more contagious through the gospel!”
Arthur S. Booth-Clibborn