A Genuine Contagious Faith
July 28, 2019
A few weeks ago, I got into some poison ivy when I helped my son John load some wood. I got it on my arms and even on my legs, which was surprising because my legs were covered.
I read that the poison from the vine will travel on your sweat and end up in areas of your body that the vine did not touch. For over a week, I was in some itching misery.
I learned that even if you were to burn the vine, the smoke from the burn could cause you to break out. That’s one more contagious vine.
While the vines that I touched while working that day were highly infectious to me, I had to convince my wife that I was not contagious to her. While she was caring and compassionate in treating my wounds, I noticed she still took plenty of precautions, like staying as far away from me as possible.
Have you ever had some issue and you had to convince other people that you were not contagious? How exactly do other people know you are not contagious? They don’t know until a day or two later, right?
By definition, a Christian ought to be contagious. What I mean by that is that we should rub off on other people in positive ways.
Our faith should make a difference in the lives of others. Hopefully, we influence people enough that we leave a good impression on people that Jesus makes a positive difference in people’s lives.
There is no way our faith can be contagious unless our lives connect to Jesus, who said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
When our lives connect to Jesus, there is a noticeable difference in who we are and the way we live.
Galatians 5:23 tells us that when our lives connect to Jesus, we have an “affection for others, exuberance about life, (and) serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely” (Galatians 5:23 The Message).
So it’s not always what we say, though that’s important; it’s also what we do. When people live their lives by example, they become contagious.
We find one great example of contagious faith in John 4. The story is of a Samaritan woman that people stayed away from like she was poison.
No one wanted anything to do with her. She was like a black widow. She was bad news when it came to those of the opposite sex.
She had attracted five men at different times, and each had married her, only to set her aside in divorce. After five marriages, she was living with another man. The women in her town treated her like an outcast. They wouldn’t even include her in their daily rituals of drawing water at the well.
Alone and troubled, she was drawing water from Jacob’s well around noon when Jesus arrived, thirsty from his travels.
Jesus had sent the disciples on into town to search for some food. The woman was surprised that Jesus spoke to here, as he broke with the custom of his day, where men did not acknowledge women in public. She was not even of the same race as him.
She was hesitant to reveal too much to this stranger. She was shocked when she discovered that Jesus knew her history. She was shocked that he knew her at all.
By the end of the conversation, Jesus had convinced this woman that she was not talking to an ordinary person. No, she was talking to the Messiah, the Christ that was promised to come. A brief encounter with Jesus changed this woman’s life, her perspective, her self-image, her hope for the future, and her faith.
She became a contagious believer, ready to share her faith with anyone that would listen.
Do you have a contagious faith?
A contagious faith can do the following things in people’s lives.
1. A Contagious Faith Should Change How We Treat People
Look at verse 27.
“Just then, his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, ‘What do you want?’ or ‘Why are you talking with her?'”
Our faith should expand our compassion zone. Before we come to know Jesus, some people will not show up on our compassion radar because we don’t care about them. We might even have feelings of prejudice toward them.
Even after our conversion, these are feelings we have to work on and confess to God.
Jesus breaks down barriers due to ethnicity, economics, or a person’s reputation that keep us from befriending, listening, or helping those different from us.
One of Jesus’ commandments that we teach our children is to treat others the way we want to be treated. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12).
If we would live by this simple rule, we could eliminate things like racism and sexism.
Jesus treated this woman as an equal. He cared for her soul, and this led to her having a contagious faith.
2. A Contagious Faith Should Change Our Priorities
Let me show you something interesting. Look at verse 28. “Leaving her water jar,” the verse begins.
The woman went to the well to draw water; then she just left her water jar there.
Her priorities for that day suddenly changed. Something much more important happened. Something much more amazing, much more urgent came up.
She met a man who gave her living water, and she could not wait to get back to her community and tell them about it. Lugging a jar full of well water home was no longer her priority for the day.
If we have a contagious faith, our priorities are different. No longer is life all about self. No longer is it about just about paying the bills or taking care of the family and seeking pleasure.
Because of Jesus, the needs of other people are also important.
No longer do we spend all of our money on ourselves and our family. We set aside a percentage for kingdom issues.
No longer do we use all of our free time just doing things that please us, but it becomes a priority to spend time caring for others, helping those in need, and finding ways to share our faith, which we discover does bring us pleasure and joy.
3. A Contagious Faith Should Cause Us to Speak Up About the Changes God Has Made in Our Lives
This women went back to her town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
This woman did not have a seminary degree. She had never been to a class to teach her how to share her faith. She didn’t even have any credibility among the people of her town.
They just knew that this woman was not the same person. They could sense the excitement and joy in her that was infectious, and they wanted to see for themselves who the person was that had caused it to happen. So they followed her to meet Jesus.
When we have spent time with Jesus, and our lives reflect the obedience of following him, people will take notice of that. People know whether our faith is genuine. When they see it by what we do, and not just by what we say, some will respond to an invitation to come to Jesus.
4. A Contagious Faith Should Cause Us to Have a Spirit of Invitation
This woman invited her friends to come and meet Jesus.
Many of us struggle with this part of our faith. How do we invite people to meet Jesus?
Bee-Shia is a tall, friendly and outgoing woman from a small town in southern Taiwan. She grew up worshiping idols and ancestors and consulting fortunetellers and shaman-like most Taiwanese do. Later, she met a missionary named Randy Adams, a doctor at the hospital in Henghchun, where she worked as a nurse.
In 2002, Bee-Shia was diagnosed with breast cancer. She and a friend went to see Randy, who discussed Bee-Shia’s test results with her, shared the gospel and prayed with her. Bee-Shia became a believer and was baptized in the sea by Hengchun Bible Church.
Bee-Shia’s cancer went into remission after therapy. Her family saw how God gave her strength and peace to bear painful treatment. Bee-Shia’s faith grew through her fight with cancer. She saw God heal broken relationships and help her forgive people who had hurt her in the past. She began sharing her faith with others who had cancer.
One by one, Bee-Shia’s faith spread to others in her family. First, her husband began attending church events and listening to the Bible on his work commute. He eventually came to believe and was baptized. Soon after, his mother, Bee-Shia’s mother-in-law, professed faith in Christ as well. The mother-in-law’s sister and niece later followed suit.
Bee-Shia’s cancer later returned, but her faith remained strong. Even when she was no longer able to serve God outside of her home now, she was able to encourage her husband, children, and in-laws to continue in their faith. She continued to pray for more opportunities to share the gospel with her parents, who were not believers. https://omf.org/us/cancer-contagious-faith/
And so faith works this way with us. We share with others what the difference Jesus has made in our lives. In turn, our faith becomes contagious. People then must decide to accept or reject Jesus for themselves.
5. Those With a Contagious Faith Look at the World through a Different Lens
This passage ends with the disciples urging Jesus to eat something.
They found food in town, but Jesus refused to eat. He used this as a teaching moment.
He says, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
Interestingly, he shared living water with this woman who came to draw water at the well. Then the told his disciples that he had food to eat that they know nothing about.
The disciples think Jesus is being literal and are wondering aloud if someone could have brought him some food.
Then Jesus clarifies himself and tells them he’s speaking in spiritual terms, that the food that keeps him going is the will of God. It’s important that he finish the work he’s started.
He reminded them that if they looked around, they could tell that in about four months it would be time to harvest. Jesus told them to open their eyes and take a good look at what was in front of them.
He wanted them to think about where had they just been. They had just been to a Samaritan town. They had just been to a place filled with people Jews rejected, but not God. Jesus was saying, “These people need the Lord.”
FBC Jefferson, I’d like to say a word to you right now. The fields of Jefferson and Jackson County are ripe for harvest.
Even if every church in this county filled up every Sunday, we would not have enough room for the unchurched people in our area. We would need dozens and dozens of more churches.
The only way we will reach people with the gospel is to have a contagious faith and a contagious church. If we have a contagious faith as a church, in the next five years, we will explode in new growth.
Over the next several weeks, please consider joining a prayer group. Prayer groups will begin the week of August 21.
The Psalmist wrote, “I love the Lord because he hears my prayers and answers them. 2 Because he bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I breathe! (Psalm 115:1).
This morning, if you realize that your faith isn’t infectious, then you need to spend time with Jesus.
If you want to get into some poison ivy, then go in the woods and find a vine and rub up against it. It’s simple.
If you want to have a contagious faith, remember that Jesus is the vine that we need to hold onto.
Once we spend time with Him, others will notice.
How do you do that?
1. Prayer, Bible Study, Small Groups (Christian Community)
2. Worship, Service, Stewardship
Look at this list. This morning, choose the once that you most need to focus on to spend more time with Jesus. The way to become contagious is by being with Jesus.
If we drink the living water He gives us and eat the food He provides, we will treat people differently. Our priorities will change. We will speak up about the difference the Lord is making in our lives. We will invite people to come to Jesus, and we will see the world through a different lens.
Photo Credit: lowcarb4U.blogspot.com