Contagious - June 2, 2018
James Collins

“And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord.” Numbers 11:1

I hope that you are as excited as I am about the “Good Ol Days” Festival this weekend. I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to deep fried Twinkies, funnel cakes, corn-dogs on a stick, cheeseburgers, a diet Coke, and other healthy snacks. Each year at the “Good Ol Days,” our church sets up a booth. I look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones. If you are out and about today, stop by our booth and introduce yourself.

Last week, I made my checklist for the “Good Ol Days.” I have balloons, helium, pens, Gospel Tracts, business cards, and lavender Purell Hand Sanitizer. I will probably shake a thousand hands today. You have to have your hand sanitizer when you shake that many hands. You can never be too careful with all the bugs that are going around. Some people may be contagious. That’s the way it usually works in my house. One of our kids will catch a cold from one of their friends. The next thing you know, that bug has spread and everyone in our family is sick.

That reminds me, I read about a study of 12,000 interconnected people in Massachusetts. This study found that happiness passes from one person to another like flu. The closer you are to a happy person, the happier you will be. Statistically, each happy friend a person has increases that person's probability of being happy by about nine percent. Every unhappy friend decreases it by seven percent. The experts conducting the study call this “contagion.”

If you are a reader of the Bible, this shouldn’t surprise you. In the book of Exodus, negative attitudes swept through the Israelites in epidemic waves. For example, in chapter 15 the Israelites burst into hymns over the parting of the Red Sea; but by the end of the chapter, they were grumbling again. Attitudes are contagious.

Last year at the “Good Ol Days,” I saw a woman that I heard used to attend our church. I went up to her and said, “Ma’am, I understand that you used to attend our church and I would like to invite you back.” She became visibly upset. She let me know that she had a bad experience at our church several years ago. She also let me know that she would not come back. She had a bad attitude and it was spreading.

Whenever I invite people to come to church, people will sometimes tell me that somewhere along the way, they had a “bad experience” in church. Well, I had a bad experience in the kitchen one time. But that hasn’t stopped me from going back in there two or ten times a day to get something to eat. I am not trying to make fun of someone’s pain. I understand what they mean by a “bad experience.” It means that they got hurt. I understand that. Over the years, church people have been critical to me. My feelings have been hurt. But I have learned that it is not about me. It’s all about the Lord Jesus Christ. I am determined not to let a negative attitude spread.

The point is: Attitudes are contagious. The attitude you're carrying right now will spread to somebody else today. If you're joyful, you will lift their spirits. If you're angry, you will infect them with negative feelings. Smiles are contagious. Infect someone with a smile today. I’ll see you at the “Good Ol Days.”

James Collins is the pastor at Fort Scott’s First Southern Baptist Church.

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