“Going viral” has entered the English language. The term used to refer to communicable diseases, the kinds that are so easily transmitted that they can rapidly escalate into an epidemic. But, in our day, it means something quite different. With the aid of the Internet, email, Twitter, Facebook, text messaging and You Tube, what was anonymous or obscure can "go viral" and become suddenly famous.
Most of us are familiar with the movie, The Social Network, that chronicles, in Hollywood fashion, how Facebook went viral from Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm room at Harvard. A website designed to use the internet as social media, Facebook itself “went viral.” When Facebook went public in May, it was valued at $14 billion and sold 82 million shares in the first thirty seconds. At that time, there were 900 million Facebook subscribers. It has become one of the most powerful tools on the internet to catapult others into the “viral” stratosphere.
When Susan Boyle stepped onto the stage at Britain’s Got Talent April 11, 2009, she was unknown and unemployed, living alone with her cat in the flat where her mother raised her. Her frumpy attire drew snickers and laughter from the judges and the audience until she began to sing I Have A Dream from Les Miserables. When she sang, everything changed. The video of her performance “went viral” on the internet and, within nine days was viewed 100 million times. She is now an established star.
“Going viral” appears to be a twenty-first century phenomenon. But is it?
History documents that the Gospel went viral following the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. There was no media campaign. There were no reporters, no cameras, no photo ops, no internet, no Facebook. But somehow, Jesus impacted and changed the world. Growing up in the obscure and infamous village of Nazareth, Jesus’ public ministry lasted only three years. He walked wherever he went and never traveled more than one hundred miles from his birth place. When He was crucified, there were no papers to report it, no news teams to film it. But the news spread around the world and is continuing to spread today. It did so by “going viral.”
Paul spoke of.”the gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth.” (Colossians1:6). And again, “For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.” 2 Cor 4:15, “I thank my God through Jesus Christ … because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.: (Romans 1:8).
When the Gospel goes viral, it requires more than posting a few sentences or a video clip on the intenet, more than “clicking” and forwarding information. The Kingdom of God goes viral when lives are transformed by faith in Jesus Christ so that society is saturated with honesty, integrity, justice and generosity. Changed lives change the lives of those around them.