At Gateway Church in Austin, we continued a series designed to go beyond just a new year’s resolution. This is an opportunity to get past what has kept you from becoming the person you were created to be.
You can watch the entire series at www.gatewaychurch.com/podcast.
John Burke shared the following insights:
“Today we wrap up our 12 Step Series talking about becoming Contagious Carriers of Life and Freedom. If you’re Contagious with life, you’ll find life spreading to others, and giving life to others fuels life in you.
Step 12: Having had a spiritual experience as a result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Step 12 is all about being a Contagious Carrier, spreading something positive you’re experiencing—spreading health and life and freedom to others. If you’ve experienced Life-change—your life will be a light, a positive effect on others unless you make an effort to hide it.
The steps are really just practices to help you Love God and Love people.
- Steps 1-3 are all about getting your relationship right with God.
- Steps 4-7 are really about getting your relationship right with yourself—being honest and at ease being who you are.
- Steps 8-12 are about relating in loving ways to others.
What you find is that you keep practicing these steps in all areas of life.
Two weekends ago, I was having a bad day. All weekend I found myself getting antsy—just feeling anxious for no reason at all. It reminded me of the way I used to feel pretty much all the time. I didn’t want to feel that way. So I pulled out Step 1 and then a Step 2. I admitted I was powerless and asked God to deliver me from it. I realized I hadn’t really talked to God or considered him at all in several days—and before you knew it, I had old feelings clouding my life like a spiritual fog. But I used the right steps, got back on track. See you keep on practicing these steps in all your affairs. And the result is your life becomes more and more Contagious. If you’re Contagious with life, you’ll find life spreading to others, and giving life to others fuels more life in you.
The second part of Step 12 is Telling Others
…we tried to carry this message to others…
“Old things passed away, new things keep on coming, and all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 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. So we are Christ’s ambassadors”
2 Corinthians 5:18-20
God’s desire is to set off a spiritual epidemic of Life. To have people who start to experience a new sense of freedom and life—become like Contagious Carriers to others—so that we reverse the spread of hurt and pain and evil, and instead we see goodness and life begin to spread as people see and hear what God’s done in us.
This doesn’t mean you go preach at people, you don’t go trying to fix or straighten people out. That doesn’t work. We don’t have to fix people, change people, or grow people—that’s God’s job, and only IF they’re willing.
Instead, you learn to BLESS other people. Begin praying for them, then Listen. You know Jesus was asked 187 questions, but he asked 2x that. He asked 307 questions. You listen and ask questions because you realize that God cares and respects their free will. People feel cared for and respected when you ask questions and listen to their story. Best way to listen is to Eat with that person. Jesus was always sharing meals with broken, struggling, sinful people. Serve them. If you pray, listen, eat together, you’ll know how to serve those 10 people around you, and you’ll have open ears when you Share your story. Here’s what God’s done for me—and he will do it in your life too—that’s the message.
That’s how the early Christian communities spread. Those who had been with Jesus said:
“We cannot stop telling about the wonderful things we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:20
It’s not about trying to convert people but offering them the Life and Freedom we’re experiencing. If you have seen God doing things in your life, you have a story to tell that others will want to hear. Nothing helps you grow more than helping others.
Your story can intersect with someone else’s story to help them start the journey of life with God. There’s nothing more incredible than watching God use your life to bring Life and Freedom to others.
LEARN TO TELL YOUR STORY
1). Here’s what I used to be like and how I felt….
The power of your story is not in your strengths, but your hurts and your vulnerability. God wants to use your hurts to help others. If you keep it to yourself, it does no one any good. When you share your story, people can identify and find hope for their struggles.
2). Here’s what happened that led me to God’s program for life….
Sharing about the circumstances that led to surrender our life to Jesus helps others know how to do the same.
3). Here’s what I’ve seen living this new life.…
I wouldn’t say life’s been easier or things have always gone my way, but they didn’t always go my way before either. What I have found is the source of a deeper experience of life and really, what I was always searching for. It’s changed the way I deal with stress and worry and helped me experience the little joys and pleasures to a much deeper extent.
If you’ve seen God doing similar things in your life—no matter how big or small—you’ve got a story to tell. I’d encourage you to go home and write it out. Write down the people who could benefit from your story. BLESS them, invite them to come learn with you here on Sundays. Start opening your eyes to the people around you and ask God for opportunities to tell your story and then you leave the results to God.
Helping Others Helps You!
This is a principle of growth you see everywhere: when you give yourself away toward helping serve others, you get more than you give. In fact, this became such a central tenent of the steps because what they realized was our biggest problem, at the core, was self-centeredness. So if a recovering alcoholic couldn’t help other strugglers, odds were great before long he was going to spiral down into the self-centered miry pit that led him to his compulsive behavior in the first place. So they go so far as to say, nothing will insure immunity from drinking more than helping others by bringing the message to them.
Part of the spiritual reasons for this is that spiritual growth is a community affair. Scripture says:
“Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.” Galatians 6:2-3
To truly grow to become all God intended, you have to let others into your life to help you grow. Then you need to do the same for others. This is what we call Spiritual Running Partners around here. We encourage everyone to get into a Life group (8-15) and find 1-2 Running Partners—people to be rigorously honest with so you help each other live the life. And what happens, is a family of friends is born which is more rewarding and fulfilling than anything you’ve experienced in friendships.
A kindly act once in a while isn’t enough. You have to act the Good Samaritan every day, if need be. Life will take on new meaning. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends — this is an experience you must not miss.
Check out the Next Steps:
- Write 10 names and start Blessing them
- Write out your story
- Let’s pray this time next year, each of us has 3 of those 10 sitting here next to us experiencing Life and Freedom together.