Did you hear the latest? There is a lot of bad news today. As there was yesterday. And as there will be tomorrow. Bad news is a daily routine since the fall of Adam. But these days, it seems that the bad news is the getting worse news. There are a couple of reasons for this, I think.
First, the bad news is worse news because of immediate, global reporting of the news. We hear about everything terrible going on in the world, and we hear about it almost instantly.
Second, there is no doubt that sin has become increasingly sinful. Modern warfare multiplies casualties. Chemically developed drugs enslave the souls of men like never before. Modern medicine makes abortion the world’s most terrible holocaust. The collapse of Western Christendom has left a moral vacuum where mortal sin has become a badge of honor, where we call good evil and evil good.
The rise of radical Islam makes the bad news worse news through terrorism and global persecution. The anonymity of the Internet has made sin universally available like never before and mainstreamed perversion. The iniquitous is ubiquitous. (Pardon that terrible rhyme. Could not be helped. OCD.) On and on.
But there is good news. First the bad news, then the good news. The good news is the gospel. And I don’t mean just the “Jesus loves you” gospel that the graffiti on the bridge boldly proclaims. (Never quite understood the logic behind vandalism evangelism.) No, I mean the whole the gospel, the gospel that God is making all things new in the resurrection of Jesus. I mean the gospel that we share in this promise and process when we are raised with Christ and ascend to rule together with Him in heavenly places. This gospel is the good news, and the church should tell it every day.
However, the church is hampered in its calling to proclaim the good news because the church seems to be just as obsessed with the bad news as the rest of the world around us. You would think we had never heard about the resurrection. Christians complain constantly about how bad things are, and we are right that things are bad. But, for crying out loud (quite literally), the church has the answer to the bad news. Why don’t we stop wailing about the world going to hell in a hand basket and start preaching the gospel? There is hope for the world right here and right now! It is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and if we do not preach it, who will?
As I see it, this problem is sort of like a group of doctors standing around in the emergency room fussing about how bad things are these days. Sickness like we’ve never seen. Automobile accidents, unprecedented trauma. Women abused, and children molested. Infectious diseases spreading like wildfire. Have you ever seen the like of it, George? I know it, Pete, I know it. What’s this world a-coming to? My, my, my. Tsk, tsk.
Makes me want to say, “Hey you! Yeah, you in the white coat with the stethoscope dangling from your indignation swollen neck. You. How about coming out of the corner and helping these people lying scattered around your emergency room floor?” And the constant refrain of Christians who bemoan the state of the world while never coming out of their corner to administer the gospel to the dying makes me want to say much the same thing. “Hey you! Yeah, you with the jumbo Bible laid across your lap, with a fistful of highlighters and a blog that curses the darkness with ineffectual regularity. You, sweaty and glassy-eyed from your last Sunday night shout out. How about coming out of your corner and preaching the gospel to the lost and dying?” Makes me want to say it. So I will.
First the bad news, then the good news. But for many Christians the bad news is the only news. They never quite make it to the “then the good news” part. Looks to me like that needs to change. I wonder how many of us today could commit that for every conversation we have bemoaning the sad state of the world, we will talk to someone about the amazing future that is coming when God makes all things new? And how about inviting them to join us as we advance the world to come?
Have you heard the latest? Jesus is raised from the dead. He ascended on high and rules the world. He sent back His Holy Spirit to redeem us and enlist us in the task of advancing His rule throughout the world. Have you heard? The church of Jesus is mediating Christ’s love to all nations, and the world is becoming a better place because of it.
Have you heard the latest? Jesus is coming again, and He plans to make heaven and earth one unbroken reality where God dwells among men and man is restored to his rightful place as God’s regent ruler over the entire universe. Have you heard? The good news outweighs the bad news. I can’t complain.
How about you, my Christian friend? Are you truly a gospel believer, or just a Christian? Have you heard the good news? Do you believe the good news? Have you told someone the good news? Today would be a good a day to start.
First the bad news. But don’t let the bad news be the last news.