I saw this video on Facebook today, it was posted by three or four of my friends. You may have seen it too. It's a very simple thing, a man laughing on a train. Then, as you may or may not expect his laughter spreads.
I've witnessed something similar before. I was with a short term mission trip as a teenager and we were on a long train journey back to the airport. I was tired and grumpy. Suddenly, three of our team members started to sing. To the best of my memory the song was, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (no Irish stereotypes there). Initially, other travellers, myself included, looked on with discomfort but then a few feet began to tap, a couple of people began to hum and by the second chorus people were singing along. Within a few minutes we were a travelling scratch choir. It was a beautiful thing.
In moments like this we realise that human emotions are infectious. Whether it is the joy of laughter spreading through the faces of a carriage or the hope of a an Irish rock hymn resting on the lips of travellers in both cases emotion spread through the carriage.
In this, internet age, we use the word going viral for videos like this. The new, cost free marketing strategy is to create something so infectious that it will be shared widely. I think about that a lot. When I consider how we share the message of Jesus I wonder what type of 'virus' we are spreading. I don't mean, 'are we creating clever little clips that will be shared around cyberspace?' I think if a view count is our aim we have lost our way somewhat but what about our message?
I met a friend recently for coffee who said that a lot of young adults they know are leaving churches because they are struggling to communicate that the church is a voice for good news anymore. When I read the comments sections below newspaper articles about Christian things I can see their point. It seems somewhere along the way we became messengers of bad news to a lot of people. For many the church is little more than a pseudo-Victorian, moralist voice, yelling at people we have little or no relationship with.
Yet the message of Jesus remains The Good News. The message of Jesus continues to be one of hope for the lonely, joy to the weary and release to the captive. The message of Jesus still rescues and liberates. It is still hope, peace and love. It is still good news.
In your conversation this week speak words of hope. In your relationships bring joy. In your workplaces, homes and communities bring love. These things are infectious and spread like laughter and song in a train carriage. I often wonder how we can be people who change the world. I am more convinced than ever that it happens one moment at a time. In a world where hate-politics is rising and mistrust and blame of the weak is rife we can speak words of life. I honestly, believe they make a difference.