August 12, 2009

In the last few years the world of the Internet has begun to use the word viral in a new way.  When a website is clicked...

In the last few years the world of the Internet has begun to use the word viral in a new way. When a website is clicked on by a rapidly growing number of viewers or an email is forwarded by a great number of people it is said to have gone viral.

My sister recently sent me a Youtube link – “JK Wedding Entrance Dance.” It’s a cute video of a bride and groom and their wedding party dancing down the church aisle to the waiting pastor. When I saw it I noticed twelve million people had already seen it. Three days later the number was over fourteen million and few days later it was over eighteen million. It had gone viral.

The Book of Acts is the story of the viral gospel as people rapidly propagated the Good News about Jesus to everyone they knew. They had an incredible missional passion to tell others of the risen Jesus they were following.

In fact, while the Book of Acts is divided into 28 chapters, it also may be organized into six sections called “panels.” Each of the panels ends with a summary verse that wonderfully expresses the energy and vitality of the growing church. As you read these verses you realize that Luke wanted to convey what we may call the viral momentum of the Good News about Jesus.

1. “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly... Acts 6: 7* See the growth of the church!

2. “Then the church... was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.” Acts 9:31 We see even more growth.

3. “But the word of God continued to increase and spread.” Acts 12:24 The church spread in touching more people with the Jesus.

4. “So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.” Acts 16: 5 Wow!

5. “In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.” Acts 19: 20

6. “Boldly and without hindrance he [the Apostle Paul] preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 28:31

As yourself, when was the last time you spoke about Jesus to anyone? When was the last time your congregation or any of its programs and ministries made a specific effort to introduce people to the Christian faith? The Good News we bear will become viral only when a growing number of Christ-followers today decide to pass on to someone else a good word about their Lord.

The former Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, Richard C. Halverson, used to refer to the Christian faith as the “benevolent infection!” The Good News of our Lord literally changes the lives of people in the most wonderful ways possible giving them a future and a hope. No wonder its “viral” – a benevolent infection!

Today we are in the “seventh panel” of the Book of Acts! Don’t fasten your eyes on the shortcomings of the church and its people in their faith-sharing with a mind to criticize. Instead remember that the spreading of the Good News of Jesus is one of the primary works of the Holy Spirit. Ask the Spirit how you and your congregation can spread the Good News in a viral manner. It’s a question the Spirit would love to answer!