What is good news to us Starbucks sipping, SUV driving, suburbanites living in the wealthiest area of Surrey? In order to answer that question, I believe that we have to ask another. What drives us? What grips our lives? What captures our imaginations? What is the dream we are pursuing?
I realize that’s four questions . . .
I think that we are gripped with a need to succeed, to be secure, to be well thought of, to have a sense of significance and feel deeply fulfilled in what we do. The desire to live full and important lives motivates us to live the way we do.
Our quest for fulfillment can take us in some unhealthy directions. We are prone to greed. To selfish ambition. To anxious workaholism. We are willing to do whatever it takes to realize our dream of a successful, important, secure life.
Good news, then, starts with the message that we are already significant. As those who are made in God’s image, we have dignity beyond our means. As those loved by God, we have the status of children with the promise of a full inheritance.
But it goes on from there. In Christ, our cycles of greed can be broken by acts of generosity. Our selfish ambition is rejected in favour of hospitality. And our anxious work is replaced by the principle of Sabbath rest.
As the Church at Southpoint, we are called to live generously, to offer hospitality and to practice restful living. These are the gifts we are receiving from God in Jesus. These are the gifts that we offer to the community. This is the good news.
Generosity. Hospitality. Rest. Does this sound good to you?
Doesn’t the “good news”, have to do with Jesus Christ dying on a cross to satisfy God’s judgement? Even though I’m a dirty, rotten sinner who deserves eternity in hell, the news that faith in Jesus can save me from my just “reward” is blunt, sobering, and tough news. But it is good news, the best news I ever heard.
Generosity. Hospitality. Rest.
Yes, it does sound good, but is it the best news the church has to offer?
Are we talking about the same good news, just phrased differently? I’m not sure.
I think a distinction can be made between the good news about Jesus and the good news of Jesus. About Jesus is that he died for our sins according to the scriptures.
But Jesus himself says, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor’, and the content of that good news? ‘freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, release the oppressed . . .’ That’s the good news of Jesus.
When Jesus is about to proclaim the kingdom to a person or a group, he often seems to start with what will be good news in that situation. To those weighted down by legalism he says come and I’ll give you rest. To the sick he says your faith has made you whole. To the hungry he blesses some loaves and fish and feeds them. To the greedy he says to sell everything and follow him.
When Jesus addresses the churches in Revelation, they are all personalized messages.
When Paul goes to Athens, his starting point is, ‘Good News, the god you don’t have a name for actually can be known!’
Examples abound in the NT of the scope and breadth of the good news of Jesus. We limit the gospel if we believe that it is only about rescuing us from God’s wrath in the life that is to come like some kind of fire insurance. It’s full power includes breaking the power of the consequences of our sin today. The cross has an impact humanity and also on the created order, on Satan even on God himself. It’s not just about satisfying God’s judgement.
Greed is a sin that grips our culture and keeps us from following Jesus with open hands and hearts. Generosity is the entry point of the good news that can break that cycle and bring people to Jesus.
Individualism in our culture has caused us to ‘take care of #1’. Hospitality changes our focus so that we might consider others before ourselves.
Selfish ambition drives us to live frantic, desperate lives as if our whole existence is dependant on our own efforts. Jesus invites us to rest in him.
These are the entry points for the good news that I believe Jesus is speaking through The Church at Southpoint to our immediate community. They are not the same words of introduction that Jesus might speak to someone in East Van or in Rwanda.
We need to preach the good news about Jesus. His life, death, burial, ascension, sending the Spirit, his coming again. These are the facts of the story and they are great news.
But we must also continue to proclaim the message of the kingdom that Jesus taught us. This is the good news of Jesus that our culture needs to hear in order to be rescued from certain destruction.
Lots to think about. Glad you expanded on your original statement.
I get what you’re saying about “good news of” being an entry point, and how the entire gospel is more than fire insurance.
But the gospel is also more than just meeting temporal needs. I think this is something that shouldn’t be lost on churches today as there is a shift towards focussing on social issues. Atheists, buddhists, sikhs, anyone can be generous, hospitable and restful. Of course they won’t give God (our God anyways) credit for those actions, but they can surely do the same things, and in all reality can supress those parts of their sinful nature to some degree.
Jesus did meet some temporal needs (feeding the hungry, etc). I think he couldn’t help but do that. However, his main focus was on the eternal condition of us.
At some point preaching the good news about Jesus must come into play. We don’t want the community to think Jesus came only so we could stop being greedy (I don’t think you are saying that at all).
Of course we sometimes need those entry points to start the dialogue about Jesus, so people can know who he is.