Okay. I’ll admit it. You know those people who adopt ‘cool’ words and just say them over and over again? That’s 100% me. I don’t even mean to—I just get sucked into word trends and then spend the next six months with nothing but ‘awesome’ or ‘rad’ in my vocabulary.
One word I used to say WAY too much is ‘epic’. I loved it and it became a word used throughout our youth group. Everything was ‘epic this’ and ‘epic that’. Soon the word became a little redundant. I wasn’t the only one either—the majority of my youth group seemed to have ‘epic’ at the top of their vocab list.
I remember one day in a leader’s meeting, our youth pastor said it’s time we take our ministry from ‘epic’ to’ epidemic’. Suddenly the word had a whole other meaning—way more than before. My pastor went on to unpack this statement and, in doing so, brought it to our attention that, by chasing after the ‘epic’, we were really only doing things that benefit us in the here and now.
When you focus on the ‘epic’, you focus on the current situations, the things that are going brilliantly right now. It doesn’t really stretch deeper than that. The word epic actually means a large tale—something far greater than ourselves. But if I’m being honest, the last time I used the word ‘epic’ I was talking about discounted yoghurts. A little above ordinary at the most but not even near deserving of a word used to describe great heroic tales or incredible characteristics. By using it in such throwaway instances, we’ve really limited ‘epic’ to just the here and now.
But an epidemic reaches and impacts others in a way we could never imagine. We often hear the word ‘epidemic’ used in negative statements in the news or in regards to natural disasters. That’s because when an ‘epidemic’ hits, it’s often not contained to just a few. It affects many. When many lives are impacted—be it in negative or positive way—it’s hard to keep it to yourself.
Imagine what would happen if the hope of God was widespread and extensive in your community?
Now I get that ‘epidemic’ is usually used to describe something terrible whereas we often use ‘epic’ to depict something as really great. However, when using ‘epidemic’ as an adjective, the synonyms listed are along the lines of ‘widespread’, ‘extensive’, ‘rampant’ and ‘sweeping’. Just think about that.
Imagine what would happen if the hope of God was widespread and extensive in your community? What if we chose to be a generation with rampant love for one another? What would it look like if God’s grace swept over your family, university, school or even your workplace?
It’s easy to read those words and get your faith stirred up, the tricky part is working out how do we take your faith from epic to epidemic without getting lost in the hype of it all.
So let’s get practical—three ways to take your faith from epic to epidemic are:
RENEW YOUR MIND
First and foremost, you need God to renew your mind. See Romans 12:2 NIV: ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’
This is because the space between epic and epidemic requires a shift mentally. It requires an expansion of your thoughts, taking a step away from inward and potentially selfish views and towards a selfless thought-space—one that sees the bigger picture. This could be as simple as choosing to see your church or youth group not as a place you need to go to but somewhere you get to go to. Then apply that to everything else: you don’t have to worship, you get to worship. You don’t have to pray; you get to pray. Perspective is everything. When you see your walk with God as something you are thankful for and not something you drag your feet to do, you’ll be surprised how much you grow spiritually!
GET OUT OF THE BOX
Epidemics are never contained. A small ocean wave may ripple at your ankles but a tsunami crashes on the shore.
It takes just one person stepping out of their comfort zone to change a life completely. Take me, for example. My story is like many others—
a friend told me about her youth ministry, Jesus met me there and the rest is history. If our goal is to have a widespread faith that will impact many, we need to be big and bold about the way we approach life. You can’t expect to have a life-changing impact if you’re too scared to break the ice with someone new. So what’s something you could do today or tomorrow? Pray about it then do it!
DON’T FEAR WHAT YOU CAN’T CONTROL
The best part about God being in control is that we don’t need to be. That doesn’t mean we float aimlessly through life but rather can continue our walk with Him confident that He has it under control.
In John 6:44 NIV, Jesus said: ‘No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws them and I will raise them up at the last day.’ Take heart in this because it takes the pressure off you. At the end of the day, we don’t change lives—God does. We may drop the stone but God causes the ripple.