Many things happened to us last year that we couldn’t control. A viral pandemic tops the list. It devastated lives and economies and turned daily living upside down. It still is. We even have a new vocabulary that dominates our conversations: Are you contagious? Have you been exposed? Are you a carrier? Who infected you?
Coronavirus starts with one person and spreads to one other person. This one-by-one, one-at-a-time process ballooned into a worldwide epidemic. In a few months, it changed everything we thought we controlled.
Heaven help us, loss of control is one of the worst things Americans can imagine! But as a Christian, I ask what things can I still control, from my little world? What part can I do as one person, one voice toward promoting goodwill, peace, hope, renewal and healing? What can I, one insignificant person, do with my prayers, words, attitudes, actions and faith?
Can you imagine the Christian parallel in this one-by-one spread here? Do you see the power of contagious interactions?
What if our Christian faith life mimicked this kind of unstoppable transferability? After all, followers of Jesus are carriers of what theologian C.S. Lewis calls “good infection.” When we put our faith in Christ, there is a transfer of God’s love and life-change that is meant to overtake us so completely that the influence of our lives overflows to “infect” others.
Jesus’ model for life-to-life disciple-making began as an outbreak. It started with a few men and spread to many, explains Doug Nuenke of The Navigators, an international disciple-making group. “He invited a few friends into a kingdom life by spending time with Him. He understood that the gospel was so contagious, so life-changing that the ones He shared His life with would catch and spread His ‘good infection.’”
Good things as well as bad are caught and spread this way. If you want to get warm, you must stand near the fire, Nuenke writes. “If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them.”
Pandemic or not, to be a Christ-follower is to be an agent of divine hope in a world wrapped in despair and darkness. Everything we believe from Scripture is a protest against resignation to that darkness. It is a testimony to the world as God intends it to be. I remind myself of this often.
Being Christ-contagious comes from the overflow of the Holy Spirit within us and by keeping the “good infection” active. Just as our body needs food and drink every day, our spirit needs the Word and the Holy Spirit every day. Luke 6:45 says, “A good man brings forth good things out of the good treasure in his heart.” It’s out of that overflowing cup that we minister to others the good treasures He gives us. Our job is to stay filled without running dry. This is something we can control: stay refreshed in the Word and Spirit and stay in fellowship (even online, phone or mail) with other believers.
Psalm 23 says, “He (God) anoints my head with oil; my cup runs over.” I ask myself for 2021: do I daily seek that anointing?
When Jesus explained that He alone is the light in the world’s darkness, I ask myself for 2021: am I a light carrier or a light barrier to God?
I ask myself for 2021: Am I a carrier of God’s grace and kindness? What does that look like? Am I a carrier of compassion instead of apathy? Am I a carrier of forgiveness instead of judgment? Am I a carrier of Godly wisdom instead of smooth-sounding quick fixes?
I ask myself for 2021: What can I, and my household, do right now to become so infectious that someone else wants what Christ gives? What one thing can I do right now to become a more contagious disciple of Jesus Christ so that someone else may be enticed to join me or to at least inquire?
We still have control of our prayers. Let’s offer more of them more often.
May He teach us to re-imagine compassion, discipleship, evangelism and His kind of love. May He make each of us spiritually contagious with the right stuff.
May our plans be less about what we will do in 2021 and more about who we will become in Christ.
I certainly have no control over Washington and world politics, or vaccine distribution or the next COVID rules, or hundreds of other unknowns of 2021. But, in Christ, I know what I do have that is valuable and to be shared with anyone willing to listen. My job is to pay better attention to His stuff.
So I pray, Lord, make us infectious with the life-giving power of the gospel. Make us infectious with your spiritually healing ways.
Let us never underestimate the power of a viral faith.
Now, it’s your turn to ask of God for 2021.
Linda Cagnetti was a professional journalist with daily newspapers for 35 years, primarily with Gannett Newspapers (incl., their Cincinnati Enquirer and Florida Today publications). Linda attends Grace Community Church in Montrose. She and her husband Frank have one adult son, and parent an fourteen-year-old grandson.