Viral Love

In an age where news spread only by “snail mail” or face-to-face word of mouth, the name and stories of Jesus of Nazareth went viral throughout Judea as He and His disciples roamed the land preaching good news to the marginalized, healing the sick, and calling out the greed and misplaced authority of the religious leaders. If “the media” existed in Jesus’ day, His brand would certainly be associated with sensationalism. Many adored Him, others spited Him, some (incl. His own family members) questioned His sanity. But everyone knew His name.

The Roman and religious authorities’ joint attempt to suppress His message by executing Him is one of the worst failures documented in human history, considering that two thousand years later, billions of people around the world still pledge their lives as followers of Jesus.

Jesus Went Viral

If you could go back to the first century and tell the entire Roman land that the “Jesus people” would eventually become the largest religion in the world, how would the people react?

You would likely be called crazier than Jesus Himself. Roman culture was anything but hospitable to Jesus’ principles when it came to valuing people and living a sacrificially disciplined life. The early Christians faced immense persecution via imprisonment and horrific execution. Add that to the fact that these people were sacrificing their lives based on a claim that their leader had physically been resurrected from the dead, and you have the classic makings of a short-lived cult.

What then, could possibly account for the rampant - VIRAL - spread of Christianity in an overtly “pagan” land over the following centuries?

If you’re a believer of the Bible, you’re free to point to the Holy Spirit, who continued to intercede on Jesus’ behalf and empower the apostles to continue His miraculous works, and continues to do so today.

Radical Love is a Viral Movement

But if you want to keep it non-spiritual and stick to the historical narrative, what remains is a small group of selfless servants who spread out and continued demonstrating Jesus’ radical, upside down kingdom values in their communities. They sacrificed the ownership of their personal possessions to ensure they could meet the needs of their neighbors. They fed the poor, clothed the naked, healed the sick, and provided a safe inner-community for the outsider.

The church expressed love by serving the people, and it did so expecting nothing in return, so long as the community knew that the origin of their love and power was Jesus. There was nothing to sell, only His name to share.

It was a radical, outlandish, unlikely, transparent, and unconditional type of love that the early church exercised throughout the land that caused their neighbors and their neighbors’ neighbors to join the Jesus movement.

2000 years later, the world is drastically different. But people are still people, and underneath everything we are driven by the same internal desires: safety; relationship; community; to love; to be loved; to be free; to be fully ourselves; and to be welcome where we are.

The early church met those desires in every new community in which they settled, so it’s no wonder why the Jesus movement exploded. Not because of the religious “rightness” of an organized authority, but because of the expressed radical love for the marginalized, oppressed, poor, and outcast.

Because the power will ALWAYS be with the people.

Live Upside Down. Love Radical. Stay Viral.

If there’s a concern among Christians that the church is “dying” in the 21st century, then it must simply mean that the practice of radical love in our communities is dying...which should mean there’s no need to start panicking or packing suitcases for the rapture. There is but one, simple response…

Shout less, Show more...radical love. Feed the poor. Clothe the naked. Free the oppressed. Welcome the alien. Love your enemy. Pray for your persecutor.

Be viral, like Him.


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