“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” 1 John 3:18 (NIV)
One of my dreams is to see the local church as a church of infectious influence. The word infectious means “quickly affecting or spreading to others” OxfordEnglish Dictionary. Imagine that. Think of what it would be like if local churches affected their cities with the love of Jesus Christ. That would be a “virus” worth catching! That would be an “epidemic” everyone would be talking about!
There’s nothing to prevent a local church (apart from un-confessed sin or apathy) from being a church of infectious influence. The church can infect people with the Jesus “bug”. A clear focus is necessary. If the local church is going to be a church of infectious influence it must understand it doesn’t exist for itself. It’s about more than having a mission statement – it’s about being a church with a mission.
The local church must be in the world but not of the world. It must see and act beyond its walls. It must die to doing business as usual, know the importance not just of proclamation but also of demonstration, and make it easier for people to come to Christ than to stay away from Him. In short, the local church must be incarnational. Congregations must be more defined by what they do than by what they say. They must care for the helpless, the hopeless, and the homeless. They must be joyful about everything, one-hundred percent committed to doing things God’s way, and extend the spirit of welcome, healing and hope.
Tradition cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the church becoming more “go and do” than “come and see.” Comfort zones cannot be allowed to prevent Christ’s Great Commission (cf. Matthew 28:19-20) from becoming an everyday reality in our midst (cf. Acts 2:47). And timidity cannot be allowed to smother God’s plan for the local church to be the “salt and light” of the earth (cf. Matthew 5:13-16).
So how can the church progress? It starts with us truly believing that God can use us. For this to happen we must see doubts as opportunities for faith to be exercised. Then we must abandon ourselves to God. To be the church of infectious influence we must get so caught up in Jesus that others will see Him being released through us. Let’s look for the kingdom of God to show up in its fullness. Let’s celebrate God because He’s God. Let’s be more concerned with authenticity than aesthetics. Let’s have bigger ambitions than ourselves. Let’s love people simply because Jesus loves people. Let’s touch the untouchables. And let’s do it, not in our strength, but in the power of the Holy Spirit.