CAUTION! Attitudes are contagious …

Is depression contagious?

According to today’s news report, it is.

Research was conducted among college students sharing dorm rooms. Persons who shared a room with someone with clinical depression were more likely to later be diagnosed with clinical depression themselves. On the other hand, persons who shared a room with someone who expressed a positive attitude tended to adopt that thinking and behavior as well.

We really didn’t need clinical research to understand that we often adopt the attitudes, and sometimes even the behaviors, of the people we spend time with. The Bible has been telling us this fact for a long time …

“… bad company corrupts good character,” 1 Corinthians 15:33b.

It’s this fact that has been used as an excuse for Christians to seclude themselves from the world, quite an opposite behavior from what we see in the life of Christ. Jesus routinely spent time with people of poor character — or, more bluntly, with sinners — but He did so without adapting to their way of thinking or joining in their sinful behaviors.

That’s the difference between engaging the world (where we interact and share our influence) and embracing the world (where we share the attitudes and behaviors of the world). We need the fellowship of devout disciples of Christ to be the circle of interaction from which we are influenced, and we need to be a source of influence among those we interact with who do not know Jesus Christ. This allows us to continue to grow in becoming more like Jesus while influencing the world for Christ without taking on the thinking and behaviors of the world.

Who are your influences? Who’s thinking and behaviors have you adopted? Who are you an influence to? What kind of influence are you to others?