Passing the Faith Contagiously
A once-popular song by the band Switchfoot declared, “We were meant to live for so much more but we lost ourselves.” In the closing line of his remake of the song “Hurt,” which was way better than the original, Johnny Cash lamented that the one thing he’d do differently, if he could live life over, was “keep himself—I would find a way.”
Most people, no matter their worldview, can resonate with this kind of thinking of life. It points to something the Bible claims, that we all have some innate knowledge of God. We think about life in terms of moral expectations, and we seek purpose.
The problem, of course, is that because we are marred by sin so is our pursuit of the truth about who we are and what life is all about. In Christ, our relationships are reconciled, not only with God but also with ourselves and, of course, others too. The freedom, joy, and beauty that result when relationships are re-ordered in Christ is something we are to proclaim to the wider world.
Often, however, we struggle to communicate it well across worldview and cultural lines. In fact, the further adrift a culture gets from reality, the more reality sounds like fantasy. Up seems like down, down seems like up, and we get the impression that our efforts to present truth to others is going nowhere.
In his recent book, Mark Mittelberg tackles the challenge and calling to communicate faith in this cultural moment. It’s called Contagious Faith, and it teaches believers to communicate to a world looking for better answers. According to Mittelberg, a big obstacle to overcome is actually believing that Christianity is worth sharing:
I’m reminded of times in my life when I caught something that I couldn’t resist and didn’t really want to. Contagious isn’t always a bad thing. … It describes something irresistible… What if instead of quietly clinging to our relationship with Christ and succumbing to the idea that faith should be private, we realized that faith is for sharing? That Jesus came not just for me and you, but to be the Savior of the world?
While it’s easy to feel intimidated by the thought of sharing Jesus with others, Mark’s approach emphasizes the different gifts and skills within the body of Christ. He describes five of what he called “contagious faith styles” we can learn to practice. Those with the Friendship-Building Style are more like Matthew, the former tax collector-turned-disciple, who held a party in his house to introduce Jesus to his former co-workers. Friends are more likely to listen to friends.
Or perhaps you’re more of the Selfless-Serving Style like Tabitha, who is described in Acts 9. She was a kind of first-century Mother Teresa, used by God to point people to Him. The selfless-serving approach is particularly powerful in reaching those who are sometimes jaded toward God and the Church.
Most of us should be able to employ the Story-Sharing Style to share our experience with Christ and point others to Him. Think of the blind man described in John 9, who simply talked about his own life. “Though I was blind, now I see,” he said.
Mittelberg’s own approach is what he calls the Reason-Giving Style. Paul demonstrates this, as described in Acts 17, when he describes God to a bunch of philosophers in Athens. Though we hear that people are no longer interested in reasons for the Christian faith, they are, not just why Christianity is true but why it matters, and why the Gospel is good. They want to know not only what Christians believe, but how Christianity makes sense of the world.
A final approach is the Truth-Telling Style. We’re all called to share the truth with others, but some have a God-given strength in doing that. Think of Peter, as described in Acts 2, speaking to the crowd about who Jesus is and how he fulfills Old Testament promises.
Look, the Gospel is a message. The old adage “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words,” is kind of silly. As Ed Stetzer often says, that’s kind of like saying “feed the hungry at all times and when necessary use food.”
Mark Mittelberg’s book is a great tool for learning and planning to share the message of Christ with the world. The message is one people need, and the mission field is right out the front door. Let’s be the kind of Christians with Contagious Faith.
Publication date: June 21, 2022
Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.
BreakPoint is a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. BreakPoint commentaries offer incisive content people can't find anywhere else; content that cuts through the fog of relativism and the news cycle with truth and compassion. Founded by Chuck Colson (1931 – 2012) in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends. Today, you can get it in written and a variety of audio formats: on the web, the radio, or your favorite podcast app on the go.
John Stonestreet is President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and radio host of BreakPoint, a daily national radio program providing thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.