Contagious

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“But to keep this thing from spreading, we will warn them never again to speak to anyone about the name of Jesus.”  So they called the two apostles back in and told them that they must never, for any reason, teach anything about the name of Jesus.  Peter and John answered, “Do you think God wants us to obey you or to obey him?  We cannot keep quiet about what we have seen and heard.”  Acts 4: 17-20 CEV

Do you know someone with an infectious smile or a contagious laugh?

The very first date I ever had with my husband, George, was to see the movie, “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.”  My date laughed and laughed so loud and so hard at every scene in the entire movie that pretty soon I was just laughing because he was laughing.  Laughing with him.  It was contagious!!

One of my friends from NJ has a contagious laugh, (well, more like a cackle!) which you can hear all the way down the hallway! You start laughing even before you see her because that laugh is just downright contagious!

But then there are those things that infect or contaminate you and stay with you long after you can tolerate them.  Like one of my school principal’s cologne.  I could smell his nauseating (sorry!) aroma as soon as he stepped out of his office and came toward my classroom.  It was an early warning sign for, “You-better-look-busy-when-I-come-around-the-corner!!”

Or, how about the Jerry Seinfeld episode where the “stink” gets in his car and gets on everything and on everybody.  No one can get rid of it…it literally attaches itself to everything!!

If you’ve ever actually had an infection or a contagious disease, you know how people just stay clear of you!  Especially in hospitals! Wow, are they paranoid about germs or what?  When I was a child, maybe 10 or so, I had ingrown toenails that got infected and had to be removed.  Ouch!  Well, my little roommate and I decided to play cards together on my bed and we were happily playing, when the head nurse walked in to check on us.  She completely flipped out.  My infected toe was draining and oozing (sorry, again!) and would contaminate the other little girl, who was there to get her tonsils out.  She quickly separated us, changed the sheets, and made us vow to remain completely apart for the duration of our stay.  What a bummer!!  I guess she felt I was seriously contagious.

What is the definition of contagious?  “Caught or communicated by contact, infectious, easily diffused from person to person, capable of infecting.  To pour out and spread, to circulate, to proclaim.  To widely spread.”  The easiest way to catch most infectious diseases is by coming in contact with someone who has one, such as, person-to-person, or mother to unborn child.

But, Church, when we talk about the Gospel, we’re not spreading a disease…we’re spreading a cure!  Spreading positive instead of negative, spreading encouragement instead of discouragement, spreading joy instead of sadness, spreading hope instead of hopelessness.  The easiest way to spread the Gospel is to communicate it.  Catch it yourself and spread it around.  Circulate it.  Pour it out.  Proclaim it!

Listen to the words of a song by the Newsboys.  “I’m Not Ashamed” from the album “GOING PUBLIC,” copyright 1992.  “I’m not ashamed to let you know, I want the light in me to show.  I’m not ashamed to speak the name of Jesus Christ.  What are we sneaking around for?  Who are we trying to please?  Shrugging off sin, apologizing like we’re spreading some kind of disease.  I’m saying, “No way!  No way!”  This one says it’s a lost cause, save your testimonies for church time. The other one states you better wait until you do a little market research.  I’m saying, “No way!  No way!”  I’m not ashamed to let you know, I want this light in me to show.  I’m not ashamed to speak the name of Jesus Christ.”

Powerful words.  Right?

Church, are we doing this?  Or, are we sick and spreading a disease?  Is our joy, or our stench, contagious?  Are we too shy or too intimidated to spread the glorious Gospel?  Do we fear rejection too much to infect the world with God’s story of love?  Are we sorry that we have to share the truth with others? Are we sneaking around, afraid we’ll offend?

Your opinion, your knowledge of God matters.  Your opinion, led by the Holy Spirit makes a huge difference in this world.  It’s a Spirit thing!  It’s what empowers Christians to be contagious, so that the tiny germ, or seed, has power to grow and spread.  It’s how you look at life through the Holy Spirit that’s contagious.

What separates you from those who are merely “good” people doing “good” things? They don’t possess the Spirit of God that empowers us with the boldness to evangelize His world.  You’ve obeyed God by receiving His Truth and by being led by His Holy Spirit.  You’re willing to be constantly corrected and renewed.  You’re willing to be pushed beyond your human capabilities to where God’s strength kicks in.

Listen to the words of one more song by the Newsboys.  “Spirit Thing” from the same album, “GOING PUBLIC,” copyright 1994.  “It’s not a family trait, it’s nothing that I ate, and it didn’t come from skating with holy rollers.  It’s an early warning sign, it keeps my life in line, but it’s so hard to define.  Never mind, it’s just a spirit thing, it’s just a holy nudge, it’s like a circuit judge in the brain.  It’s just a spirit thing, it’s here to guard my heart, it’s just a little hard to explain.  It pushes when I quit, it smells out counterfeit.  Sometimes it works a bit like a teleprompter.  When it’s teleprompting you, I pray you’ll let it through, and I’ll help you with the how, but for now, it’s just a spirit thing.  It’s just a holy nudge; it’s like a circuit judge in the brain.  It’s just a spirit thing, it’s here to guard my heart, it’s just a little hard to explain.”

Says it all, doesn’t it?

It’s your sensitivity to that holy nudge, that circuit judge in your brain that makes the difference.  You can hear that early warning sign that keeps your heart in line.  The Holy Spirit helps you smell out counterfeit, it’s that spirit thing that guards your heart.  Don’t try to explain it, just spread it around.

For a germ to get into someone’s blood stream, it can’t be a weak germ, or the body’s healthy immune system will not let it get in.  To get the Gospel spread into the heart of someone who has built up immunity to that still, small voice of the Holy Spirit, you can’t be a weak Christian.  Some people in the world have sanitized themselves from the Gospel.  They’ve used anti-infectious walls to contain what they think of as the contamination of the Gospel.

Church, you need to be contagious.  Spread it around, because then the world can see Jesus through you.  Yes, people need to find Jesus for themselves, but by being a contagious Christian, you can show them where He lives.  Point the way.  Start the germ of belief; plant the seed of hope.  Tell them it’s okay to trust Him.  If they’re hungry, they’ll find Him.  It doesn’t always mean they’ll agree to come to your church.  But, that they may want to become a part of His Church, the family of God.  Teach them, by your life, that it’s okay to believe in prayer, in truth, in right and wrong, and in integrity.  If He lives in your heart, let people look in there and see Him.  Show them by your everyday lifestyle, not just your Sunday best.

Spread your germs…the seeds of the Gospel.  Get it into their bloodstream where it can really do its work.  Jesus’ blood covers us.  Let it flow.  Something that’s infectious changes us.  Be infectious.  Keep growing ‘til you’ve become a full-blown infection, a liberating contamination.  You’re spreading the Good News, not a disease.  Jesus offers people freedom from the disease of sin.  He’s the way to wellness.  Be so contagious that you spread it by just being in the same room with someone.  Where it will just float in the air and be inhaled by someone.  You can spread our contagious Gospel everywhere, all the time, even when you don’t see a “sick” person.  Don’t try to be a contagious Christian with unclean hands, or you’ll be prime target for satan’s contamination.  Be a healthy Christian who’s as infectious as a smile and as contagious as a laugh.

As all germs are different, so all Christians can be contagious in different ways.  Use what God gave you to invade the world’s defenses.  Max Lucado explains in his book “Cure for the Common Life” (W Publishing Group, 2005) that God packs our bag with all the tools we need to serve Him.  Max says, “God did not drop you into the world utterly defenseless and empty-handed.  You arrived fully equipped.”  So, use the unique tools, talents, and passions God gave you to be contagious in His Kingdom.

Who are the contagious Christians you know?  The ones you go to when you need prayer, or the ones you seek when you need encouragement?  Whose joy of the Lord can you feel just by being in the same room with them?  Where are the “prayed up” Christians around you?  Can you feel that “spirit thing” when they’re around?

To be contagious, get to really know people, so you can find out how satan’s lies have permeated their spirit.  People who don’t know Christ are highly susceptible to satan’s tricks.  They haven’t been exposed yet to the Truth of God’s Word.   They haven’t built up resistance or immunity to satan’s fiery darts.  They have habits that promote the spread of the enemy’s lies; and their hearts are deceived.  That’s how they become contaminated.

The Bible says, in II Corinthians 4:3-10  (CEV), “If there is anything hidden about our message, it is hidden only to someone who is lost.  The God who rules this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers.  They cannot see the light, which is the good news about our glorious Christ, who shows what God is like.  We are not preaching about ourselves.  Our message is that Jesus Christ is Lord.  He also sent us to be your servants.  The Scriptures say, ‘God commanded the light to shine in the dark.’  Now God is shining in our hearts to let you know that His glory is seen in Jesus Christ.  We are like clay jars in which this treasure is stored.  The real power comes from God and not from us.  We often suffer, but we are never crushed.  Even when we don’t now what to do, we never give up.  In times of trouble, God is with us, and when we are knocked down, we get up again.”

Church, shine with Jesus’ light, and then let your light become contagious.  We all need to work together to spread God’s Word.  Obey God.  Speak about Jesus now, so others can find Him now.  It’s imperative that we do it now, while there’s time left.   We cannot keep quiet about what we’ve seen and heard.  Spread God’s story of love. Manifest the Gospel.  Church, the Body of Christ should be a contagious force in this world.  Let God shine in your hearts to let the world know that His glory is seen in Jesus Christ.

Don’t wait until you think you’re perfect to be contagious, we’re like clay jars (maybe even cracked clay jars!) in which this treasure is stored.  Every time you encourage a child to read the Bible and trust in the Lord, every time you pray for a need, believing God will answer, every time you rejoice in the Spirit even in a crisis, you’re being contagious and spreading God’s Word.  You’re sharing yourself, your passion and your faith for the glory of God.  Do it!

The Director of Vacation Bible School at my church in NJ, taught me many things.  I was new to the Christian walk and I was hungry to find out how to live it.  Just in passing during one of our conversations about VBS, she commented that our meeting would need to be after her morning devotions because she spent that time with the Lord.  I’d never heard about devotions and thought, “Yes, I need to do that, too!”  I could see how that kept her in tune with God.

How contagious she was without even trying!  Perhaps she didn’t even realize she was being infectious.  Maybe you won’t know either.  Do it anyway!  Be contagious from your overflow.  Spread God’s love because you’ve received it abundantly.  He’s infected you with joy unspeakable.  You’ve received much more than you’ll ever need.  Give it away.

Let’s not keep this thing from spreading.

Gracious Heavenly Father, You’ve infected us with your joy.  And it’s our joy to honor you.  Thank you for all your blessings.  Help us share your love wherever we go.  Make us bold, contagious Christians in your Kingdom with your message of hope.  Fill us to overflowing with the gift of your Holy Spirit, so we can be your servants to a lost world.  We’ll never stop proclaiming the name of Jesus.  In Jesus Name we pray.  Amen

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