Summary: We are living in some strange times! In this sermon Greg Stier, founder of Dare2Share ministries, shares some practical wisdom and insight into a gospel centered response.
We are living during some strange, strange times. More and more cities are taking drastic steps to contain the spread of the Coronavirus. We, as a ministry have taken drastic steps as well. We have cancelled our face-to-face large group meetings for the immediate future and have moved much of our ministry online.
That’s what it takes to contain a global pandemic like the Coronavirus. But, something we must remember, even if every Christian was quarantined to their homes for the next several months in the worst possible scenario…you can’t quarantine the Gospel.
It is an unstoppable contagion that doesn’t hurt, it heals. It doesn’t destroy, it transforms. It doesn’t bring death, it brings life.
The Apostle Paul understood this well. At the end of his life he was stuck in a jail cell, chained to a Roman soldier waiting to be executed. He was in a final and ultimate quarantine of sorts. But he wrote these words in 2 Timothy 2:9,
“And because I preach this Good News, I am suffering and have been chained like a criminal. But the word of God cannot be chained.” 2 Timothy 2:9
I love that last phrase, “But the Word of God cannot be chained!” That message was spreading and multiplying even while Paul was in quarantine on death row!
In the same way, we may feel somewhat quarantined during this time of social distancing and house confinement for many. But the Word of God cannot be chained.
I believe that we are living at a time where the Gospel could spread faster and farther than ever before. The circumstances surrounding this pandemic can actually accelerate the spread of the good news of the Gospel. For the first time since 9/11, many people are turning to God, worried about death and concerned about this life and the afterlife.
I’ve been sharing the Gospel for over 40 years and I can’t think of a time more ready for the spread of the Gospel than now.
We must lovingly share this hope with the world right now.
Almost 20 years ago I wrote my first book. It was called Outbreak. The subtitle is “creating a contagious youth ministry through viral evangelism.”
Why did I call it Outbreak? Because a virus is a great example of how the Gospel spreads. It spreads from contact. It spreads from person to person.
And, in the early church the Gospel spread from Jerusalem to Rome in less than 30 years, without airplanes, without cars, without the www.theapostlepaul.com.
In 1995, Hollywood produced a popular movie called Outbreak, starring Renee Russo and Dustin Hoffman. How many of you remember seeing this movie? This, now classic movie, was in the top 10 movies viewed on Netflix in the month of March. It tells the story of how a monkey got a contagious strand of the Ebola virus. This infected monkey scratches a man. The man sneezes in a movie theater. The camera follows the particles coming out of his nose through the theater into the open mouth of an unsuspecting movie watcher and boom…the outbreak begins!
There’s a scary scene in the movie Outbreak where a military epidemiologist talks about the spread of the virus. Standing in front of a large virtual map, he says, “The infection will start here” (pointing to a single red dot). “Within 12 hours it will spread this far” (the red covers a larger portion of the map). “Within 24 hours it will spread this far” (half the map is red). “And within 72 hours it will infect the whole of the United States” (the map is flooded with red.)
When I watched that scene I couldn’t help but think of Acts 1:8 where Jesus told his disciples how the Gospel would infect the world (in a good way!). He said, “you will receive power after the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem (the single red dot), and in Judea and Samaria (the red covers a larger portion of the map) and to the ends of the earth (the whole map is drenched with the red blood of Christ!).
So praise God that the Gospel message is more contagious than the Corona virus. The difference is, that the Gospel doesn’t kill you, it transforms you! It doesn’t make you ill, it makes you well. It doesn’t lock you down, it frees you up!
So how do we unleash it? We pray! We care! We share!
We learn from the ultimate carrier of the good news, Jesus Christ himself, how to start a viral outbreak in Mark 1:35-42. In this passage, Jesus becomes the ultimate carrier and starts a contagious movement that is still spreading like a holy pandemic 2000 years later. Let’s read this passage together,
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus was indignant He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.” Mark 1:35-42