Here is the second point that we can see on christian influence, as we look at the body analogy that Paul presents in Ephesians 4:

2. Christian influence is holistic.

Very often when we think of influence, we might think of trying to convince someone of our ideas or beliefs. Especially in the context of christian life, we view influence as something that happens when someone is under another person’s preaching, or is being instructed one to one on some specific area of life.

In other words, when we think of influence placing certain ideas inside another person’s mind. We think that the only thing that is needed is to put the correct information is in their head. But we never really ask the next question: what will they do with the information, once it is in their head? Will they be able to actually use it in life?

In reality, this is a very reductionist view of influence. It reduces influence down to a few simple steps. This is how our educational systems are built: give em the classes, make them learn all the information, and voila – you’ve got a scholar. In reality however, very few of those walking off with that degree in their hands actually ever turn out as leading scholars or scientists.

When Paul talks about influence in the life of the church he does not talk about a machine, he talks about a body. What is the difference? – Life. As we mentioned earlier, christian influence can be defined from Ephesians 4 as the exchange of life between Christians. Life involves so much more than just a few simple steps, so much more than just communicating a bunch of theological facts to another person.

A single cell in the body never exists for just one, simple job. Each cell is constantly cranking our thousands of processes, all of which contribute to the healthy functioning of the cells and organ around.

Just think about it: if you are a christian, how is it that God influenced you? Did he just give you a bunch of information? No. He gave you a person – Jesus Christ. He came down, lived the life as a perfect model, died for us, and now is alive forever more working personally through the ministry of the Holy Spirit with each individual saint.

Influence is the joining of lives, in order to communicate one persons way of functioning to another. It is the communication of character, mindset, worldview, attitude, conviction, etc. to others. This is how Christ influenced us: he gives himself to us, in order to make us like him.

Therefore to truly be influenced, and to be an influence, we must glue ourselves to the lives of the saints around us. We need to seek to get inside their heads in order to see the true lasting change  that the gospel has produced in them. We need to desire to learn not only what they think but also how they think.

This is, by the way what the word holistic means: its the understanding that every piece is cannot be understood without the whole, that you can’t focus on just one aspect because it does not exist without the whole. Christian influence is not the communication of information, it is the communication of lives; lives that are themselves constantly influenced and shaped by the gospel.
Do you see your need in the lives of the mature christians that surround you? Deep, biblical relationships is one of Christ’s most important tool to communicate the reality of the gospel into his people. Sure he personally builds a relationship with you, but he also arms your life with the lives of other christians.
I have seen this proven true in my own life time and time again: the most significant steps that I have taken in order to become a better influence is to root myself more deeply into the lives of more mature and godly people.