Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Exciting News

Christians are fairly universally on about "Good News".
But sometimes the way we go on about it doesn't make it sound so "good".
Back-tracking a little bit, the word "Gospel" also the word "Evangel"  are older words that basically translate into the words  "God's news" or good news.
(Hopefully I'm fairly close to correct in that last statement)
So the verb evangelise and the adjective "evangelical" are all to do with sharing good news.
Today was a special day for my wife and I.
One of our children achieved a life goal, which was exciting, exhilarating (and any other positive descriptive words you would like to add) etc.
Without hesitating for a moment we were on the phone, on Facebook, texting, and even telling strangers we met about our exciting news.
I said to my wife, this is what happens when you have good news to share. You just share it. It's not a burden, it doesn't feel awkward, you are not forcing people to agree, you can't actually resist the urge to tell someone, anyone or everyone what you now know to be true and amazing.
Then I thought about our Easter musical we are about to perform. And again I realised how natural it feels to be telling everyone to come and see it, advertising it in the paper, recruiting young and old to help spread the word. All those involved seem more than willing to help promote the musical.
Then I thought about "the woman at the well" in John's Gospel, how, after meeting Jesus, she ran back into her village telling everyone to come and meet the person who had just told her "everything she had ever done!". She was clearly excited.
Surely that is how it is meant to be with the news we have from God?
If it's not like this, then what is going wrong?
Maybe what we think is the gospel is not that exciting. Maybe it feels heavy, and foreboding, maybe even condemning.
How can we get excited condemning people? Is this the message we are meant to spread? Is this the Gospel?
Maybe we have become a bit like the Pharisees, wanting to point out the negatives and bringing people down.
I agree that John preached repentance, and repentance is absolutely necessary for us to be part of Gods family. And yes, we must all repent.
But the good news is that Jesus came not to condemn but to save, and his salvation is truly a free gift to all who want to receive it. Yes anyone, no matter who you are and what you've done.
It is my personal belief that this salvation is a gift, freely given. We don't need to do anything at all to earn it.
I even believe that repentance is a gift.
I believe that as the  amazing message of forgiveness and acceptance from God to us takes root, it ( the power of the message) actually brings about transformation in the person who believes it, including repentance!
That's great news isn't it?
We don't have to get every bit of theology right, but it does help if we are a bit excited about what God has done in us!!!
Today as we were walking in the shopping centre, a man was handing out little yellow business cards, with the news "Jesus loves you"
The fine print didn't excite me, but his humble manner and deliberate willingness to hand these cards out did.

I'll leave the subject of "the prayer for salvation" for a later blog.

May God bless you with an understanding of his great love for us all.