“Going viral” was once limited 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 obscure can “go viral” and become suddenly famous.
Facebook went viral when Mark Zuckerberg launched it from his dorm room at Harvard. Today, more than one billion people use Facebook every day and its market value exceeds $300 billion. 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 a small apartment where her mother raised her. Her frumpy attire drew snickers from the judges and the audience. But when she began to sing I Have A Dream everything changed. The video of her performance “went viral” on the internet. Within nine days it 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.”
When the Gospel goes viral, it requires more than posting a few sentences or a video clip on the Internet, 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.