Christianity 101 - Chapter 8
This morning I was reminded of how many times Jesus associated with sinners. It was a total shock to the religious people of the day. He would eat and drink with tax collectors and women of ill repute. He would touch the lepers. All of these things flew in the face of the standard teaching of the day.
This attitude still prevails today. This type of teaching still flourishes. Why? It stems from a mentality that somehow sin is contagious. People still believe that somehow if we hang around people who sin, that their sin will somehow taint us. This causes us to be reluctant to share our faith. It causes fear.
Under the Old Testament law, sin and being unclean was considered contagious. If you touched a leper you became unclean. If you touched an immoral woman, you became unclean. This was because under the law, it was a performance based holiness. It was what you did that made you holy or unholy.
"Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, 'Unclean! Unclean!'
The reason that the lepers had to cry unclean is so nobody would be defiled by touching them. This was holiness from the outside.
So when Jesus touched the lepers, ate with tax collectors, and allowed an immoral woman to wash his feet with her hair, to the religious people of the day, He was allowing himself to become unclean.
We have the same problem today. It may not be lepers with a physical disease but it surely is with social lepers.
We don't want to dirty ourselves with people who have sexual disfunction, drug and alcohol additions, poverty and many other social stigmas.
The reason is the same as the people who lived under the old testament law. We don't want to become unclean (influenced) by those people and their problems.
Jesus stood firm against such thinking. He showed that it was not sin that was contagious but cleanness that was contagious.
He was the righteousness of God who made the leper cleansed, the tax collector honest, and the immoral woman a new creation. It is not sin that is contagious but the righteousness of Jesus that was contagious!
We have Jesus living on the inside of us. Because of that we also have the same righteousness of God that Jesus had because we have placed our faith in Him and not in performing the law.
and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;
So instead of sin being contagious, we are the contagious if we will allow that righteousness to come through us.
When we truly know that it is not about how worthy we are or how well we have performed, and we totally rely on the righteousness of Jesus, then we will be the influencing factor in the lives of the unrighteous.
You have the God of the universe living on the inside of you. You have received His Holy Spirit.
It is time for all of us to realize that when we see the poor, the downtrodden, the addicted, the sexually dysfunctional, the social lepers, that we are the contagion that they need. Our faith, our hope, our love is exactly what they need.
In order for us to have contagious faith that influences people to come out of their sin we must have something that is better than what they already have.
The world and people in the world is already under condemnation. They know that they are not as good as they should be. The Bible specifically says that the law of God has been written on their hearts. That law condemns them.
We have the message of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:19
For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.
Did you read that closely? God was reconciling the world to himself. He was not trying to keep people away. Not only that, but the same message that He gave Jesus, He gave to us also!
So how do we have contagious faith?
It comes down to our message. Are we pointing people to faith in Jesus for what they need?
Are we speaking of how God has came through for us?
Are we sharing His wonderful unconditional love for them?
To have contagious faith, we must be speaking the same message as God.
What did God speak?
Let me paraphrase it. "I am reconciling myself to people. I am no longer holding their sins against them. They can receive forgiveness for all their sins, past, present, and future, because Jesus died once and for all for the sins of mankind. They only need to receive."
That is something that is both good news (the gospel) and something that they all need to hear. The poor, downtrodden, sinners, and in all honesty, most saints, would welcome such a message and when mixed with faith, would become totally virally contagious.
That is how you start sharing Jesus with others. You testify, become a Christian witness to what you know God has done for you. If you share His message, then you don't have to fear.
If you know of his unconditional love for you, then you have no fear of others. Perfect love casts out fear.
Pastor Duke Taber is the Senior Pastor at The Vineyard Church in San Carlos Ca. He is an alumnus from Life Pacific College and Multnomah Biblical Seminary. He is a husband, father, and grandfather.
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