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Viral Faith

How to be a supernaturally contagious follower of Jesus

I have participated in the multiplication of the chicken and spaghetti. So I suspect I have a pretty good idea what the disciples felt like when they saw five loaves and two fish feed a multitude. Let me tell you my story.

The rapid explosion of churches in Madrid had just begun. My friends had just won seven people to the Lord as I arrived at their apartment. The plan was to feed them and for me to begin to disciple them in the basics of Christianity. My friend Mariluz had prepared a chicken, salad and spaghetti dinner to feed them. In all, there were the seven new Christians, Mariluz, her fiance, Manuel, two of Manuel’s roommates and me. We had barely enough food for the 12 people there: two chickens, a large platter of spaghetti, a salad, two loaves of bread and a couple of bottles of wine.

We hadn’t counted on two crucial factors, however. First, our guests were hungry; and second, the new Christians from the other churches decided to visit Manuel and Mariluz. The only polite thing to do was invite them to dinner. So as I spoke of salvation and the love of Jesus, I also dished up the spaghetti and chicken. As they asked questions, they would hand me their plate and I’d give them more chicken and spaghetti. Then as the discussion wore on, I’d do it again. Soon the apartment was full of visitors from the other new churches. Mariluz asked the people seated at the table to come to a corner of the apartment to have a discussion with Manuel while I fed the new guests. Eventually 36 people were fed, and I was serving the food.

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I was so absorbed in the dialog about Jesus and the new arrivals to the table that I wasn’t paying much attention to those two chickens and the large plate of spaghetti. However, as the last person was fed it was as if Jesus tapped me on the shoulder.

“Look at the chicken. How many were there?”

“Two, Lord, yet there’s still chicken left. But I saw many people taking two and three pieces each.”

“And how much spaghetti was there?”

“One plate full, Lord.”

“How much is there now?

“There is still a half a plate left over, Lord.”

A chill went down my spine that I will never forget. I was in the presence of the King.

The Supernatural Norm
Much like the chicken and spaghetti, Jesus’ instructions to His disciples—and later the 72 others—when He sent them out to preach involved the supernatural (Matt. 10:1-16; Luke 10:1-23). He gave them a specific pattern on how kingdom-advancing work was to be done. The instructions in Matthew 10:7-8 list them all: “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give” (NIV).

Though the other Gospel accounts of Jesus’ directives vary on which miraculous elements are described, all of them mention the supernatural. The issue, then, isn’t which kind of supernaturalism is allowed in kingdom ministry; the point is that it’s part and parcel to kingdom ministry. In fact, we see supernaturalism as an integral reality in the ministry of Jesus, in the original 12 apostles and in the later apostolic work as mentioned in Acts and the Epistles. Jesus doesn’t mention in any of these passages that signs and wonders are to be a part of kingdom work, yet He multiplied fish and loaves twice when He preached the kingdom. Further, a significant sign and wonder was accomplished with Peter’s shadow:

“Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed” (Acts 5:14–16).

Later in Acts, “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them” (19:11-12).

Jesus used a prophetic word of knowledge with the woman at the well in John 4 to reach many in that Samaritan village. Peter had a prophetic vision that connected him to Cornelius. Cornelius himself had an angelic visitation. Jesus and Paul cast out demons, as did the 12 and the 72.

The point is that we should expect supernaturalism in the context of expanding the kingdom and preaching the gospel. Though the supernatural can materialize through us as it did with these mentioned, it isn’t under our control. Jesus is the Lord of the harvest; we are not. He gets to decide what He will do, when He will do it and how that will take place. Is it always supernatural? I think it would be more honest to say that supernaturalism was normal and expected in evangelism and church planting in the New Testament. My friends and I have also come to expect it to be part and parcel of our ministry. But we don’t necessarily expect miracles every single time. We have no idea what will happen, when it will happen or how. Nor do we know if the miraculous will be involved at all. Still, whatever happens will be supernatural, because God, who is a supernatural God, is leading the process.

We can only do what we see the Father doing. Jesus could do no more than that; neither can we. However, like Jesus in the Gospels, we can pray often, listen and obey what we hear. And that’s the secret to contagious, viral faith. There’s no power in technique, but there is tremendous power in listening, prayer and immediate obedience. When you start doing that, don’t be surprised when you see God respond with supernatural power.

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