(This is an excerpt from a post made on another message board.)
“If you had to sum up Jesus’ ‘Good News’ what would it be in a nutshell?”
This is something I’ve definitely been trying to figure out. One of the main motivations is that I didn’t feel like I had any particularly good news to share with someone who wasn’t a Christian. I felt that a conversation was more likely to go along the lines of, “Yeah, I agree. Too many christians are stupid, annoying, etc.” All I’d have to add is, “Well, I still believe in the Bible and everything it says, even if a bunch of people are getting it wrong. Oh but don’t look forward to the Christian life, because it’s really hard and tough and just kind of sucks a lot of times.” Not too much good news there.
But I’ve been trying to figure out what the actual good news is as it was taught by Jesus and in the Bible. I think Jesus sums it up well when he reads from Isaiah:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
I think that the good news is that God is working in the world, to fight evil, sin and the consequences thereof, to make all wrongs right, to straighten out the crooked, and to bring justice with mercy and grace. To establish a world where people care for each other, and are forgiven. This is the kingdom of God, which is coming and has already come.
Everyone can relate to having experienced bad things of some kind or another. It could be as simple as someone insulting you, or more severe such as being wrongfully imprisoned. So it seems that it should be good news to all that things will be made right, that there is healing, and hope.
I think it is important also to realize what it doesn’t say, in light of some people subtly misinterpreting this in light of our culture. Yes God loves you and wants to see you happy, but his ultimate goal is that we’d grow into the fullness of maturity that He has planned for us, for He knows that it where we will eventually be most fulfilled. However, there are trials along the path that leads there.
So, the good news is not that you’ll live a happy, comfortable life. It’s not that God will give you whatever things that you want (if you just pray hard enough, in the right way, with enough faith, etc.).
I think that it’s a big problem that this has been mostly lost in contemporary christianity. It seems like so much of christianity is just doing certain routines, with seemingly little point. I think the reason that we seem irrelevant to the culture, and even to those in the church often times, is not that we’re not trendy enough. Sure, spice things up and maybe you’ll get more people in the building (which is what a lot of churches have been about; many times all it is doing is simply amusing people who are already christians without actually challenging them).
The church has lost it’s saltiness because it’s lost the gospel. We have made the same mistake as the Jews nearly 2000 years ago. We think that the good news is just for us, but it’s not, it’s for the world! It’s for the marginalized of society, for the beggar, for the homosexuals, for the users and abusers, for those who cuss and those who drink. The gospel is not reserved for the clean cut, and those who speak fluent christanese.
My theory of evangelism is that the church first needs to start acting like the church. “They will know we are Christians by our love, one for another.” I think that if the church started living out the life that God had shown us, loving and serving both our own family and also those who surround us, we’d constantly have people seeking to join us. No more need to pressure someone with “Where will you go if you die tonight?” questions. I think the church’s purpose is to declare God’s kingdom in the world, and I think all too often we’re not currently doing that.