April 1, 2014 • By Ed Wrather
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. - John 13:34-35 NKJV.
So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. - Acts 2:46-47 NKJV.
The Urban Dictionary describes the term “going viral” in this way: “An idea, concept, product, video or other cultural meme exponentially increases in popularity, meaning its popularity doubles every minute, hour, day, month or other unit of time. On youtube increasing popularity can be tracked by clicking the video statistics icon to the right of the number of times viewed.” WikiAnswers says “going viral” means “becoming extremely popular in a very short period of time. Often for something to become viral it needs to make its way into everyday life, non-internet life.” Dictionary.com defines it this way: “go viral. viral. of, pertaining to, or caused by a virus. Pertaining to or involving the spreading of information and opinions about a product or service from person to person, especially on the Internet or in e-mails.”
There are a lot of things going viral these days and not just the flu. There are videos going viral of a boy having his tooth pulled out by a remote controlled helicopter drone, 20 strangers meeting and kissing, a n_ked woman running down a street, and a Finnish teenager demonstrating how different languages sound. One of the good ones is about a boy from India finding his lost family 25 years later with Google Maps. Then there are the non- video virals of people posting selfies on facebook. The Sellotape Selfies (Orange News 03.21.14) may make the top of the list with 100,000 people following that page which started up only a few days ago. People wrap tape around their faces to make themselves appear grotesque. After they have posted their photo they challenge a friend to do the same, who challenges another friend, who challenges another friend and on and on. 21-year-old Lizzie Durley a college student at Brighton University is the person credited with starting this viralness (I made this word up and I hope it goes viral.). If you have this overwhelming urge to wrap your face in tape and take pictures of yourself you can share them on facebook and here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sellotape-Selfie/379138492229314
One of the first recorded occurrences of non-disease viralness was of the rapid exponential growth of the early church. It all started with the first believers going out from the upper room sharing personally their faith. The personal witnessing was followed by Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost when thousands received Jesus as their Savior. But it didn’t stop there, the church continued to increase in numbers with new believers being added “daily.” What was it that fueled the continued viral growth of the early church? The viral growth of the early church was fueled by their love for each other. Those outside of the church, non-believers, could see the love that believers had for one another and they wanted to be part of it. Just as Jesus said, non-believers were able to see that believers loved each other and they knew it was because of Jesus.
Why could non-believers see that believers loved each other? For one thing, this love went far beyond just words. They demonstrated their love in a sacrificial way following the example of Jesus (Romans 5:8). Acts 2:44 tells how they went beyond words: “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.” However, it was even more amazing to non-believers to see this demonstration of love because of the people who made up the early church. The early church was made up of people like this: Tax Collectors, Fishermen, Sons of Thunder, Political Zealots, former demon possessed people, former prostitutes, doubting Thomases, Jews, Gentiles, Samaritans, educated and uneducated, introverts and extroverts, and those who were very rich, and very poor. The early church was a strange group of people and it hasn’t changed much in 2000 years.
What the church, Christianity, needs today is a viral outbreak of LOVE! It can start with you and me. May each one of us, every day, pass this sacrificial love onto as many people as we can by demonstrating it in some way. Then, they can pass it on to someone else, who will pass it one to someone else, who will…. MAKE IT GO VIRAL!!