The problem today is this phrase, good news, has come to mean something else entirely. For many, the gospel actually sounds more like bad news. An angry, punitive god who can’t tolerate sin and demands a sacrifice to satisfy a moral code. Ugghh. No one wants this god. Resembling the ancient mythological gods of wrath more than the God that I know. For at the margins, the gospel is represented by the crazy prophet guy at the street fair holding a big sign and yelling at the crowds to repent or burn in hell. At yet all the more alarming, today mainstream “evangelicalism” conjures up images of judgmental, naïve, mean-spirited people who don’t care about the plight of the poor, who are out of touch and perhaps a little out of their minds. For many young people today, this is a deal breaker, only serving to ensure the final nail in the coffin of the traditional church as their stomachs churn and they flee for their lives and their consciences.
You see, they know. They know that this is supposed to be good news for everyone. There are many false gospels today. Jesus told us to be on the look out for them. And for me, the litmus test is this. Is it really good news to my neighbors? To all my neighbors. Rich, poor, old, young, those who live in their big houses, those who don’t have a home, those who are addicted to screens and those who need their daily fix of methadone. Does it embody the heart and compassion of Jesus? Is it truly good news?
For God is good, always has been and always will be. From beginning to end. Our story begins as the Spirit first breathed life into a good and beautiful creation and the first image bearers and declared that it was very, very good. When Jesus entered the beautiful broken story of humanity, coming as one of us, the angels brought good news of great joy that would be for all people. When Jesus walked the earth, he declared in his inauguration speech that he had come to preach good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to set the captives free and to bring freedom to those who were imprisoned. And when his followers were startled out of their minds to find that Jesus who had suffered and died a brutal death was in fact very much alive, it was a kind of good news in which the world was now a different place. Heaven had come and God’s restoration project had begun to renew all of humanity and creation to the goodness for which it was created.
Pics from Jump for Joy Photo Project
by Jessica Ketola