A guest post provided by a great friend and mentor whose counsel has helped shape much of what I write and how I approach my faith…
Good news is relative. It’s relative to whether or not you have any bad news. It would be good news if somebody announced that they had found a cure for breast cancer. That would be good news. Absolutely, take a pill and its gone. So it’s not such great news to me if I don’t have breast cancer. So its relative to where you are. If you’re in serious trouble and somebody says that they have a cure for your trouble that would be good news, but if everything’s okay then it’s really not that good of news. Part of the problem I see with salvation is a lot of people say ‘salvation from what?’ Well salvation from all of the sin and trouble of life. Well actually, many people say my life is pretty good. Things go along pretty well, things are going all right, my family is doing fine. I got money in the bank I’m paying off my house got two cars in the garage, what do I need salvation from exactly.
In our American society we’re pretty good about insulating ourselves from death. People use to die at home in bed and the coffin used to be in the front room and people would come to the home to grieve and we’ve managed to insulate ourselves pretty well. We don’t seem to get the whole bad news things about death the way that other cultures do.
That’s one of the reason’s we don’t fully fathom the good news the way we should because we don’t really understand that bad news. If you’re trapped in a burning building and you could feel the heat around you. You could smell your hair burning and see your clothes starting to smolder. And then a fireman bursts in and wraps you in a fireproof blanket and throws you over his should and carries you to safety that would be good news. That of course is the idea of the good news as it’s told in the New Testament. Suppose today was your last day on earth. That when you close your eyes tonight you would never open them again. If you could get in touch with those feelings of fear, loneliness, and emptiness, meaninglessness and then you could hear the good news that says “BUT though your your eyes close in death tonight, next time you open them you will see the face of God; and life will be exactly the way you want it to be precisely the way you’ve always imagined and that life could go on forever and ever.” That would be good news. And that is exactly the good news that Jesus proclaimed and the good news that dominates the entire new testament. The knowledge that death is not the end. That no matter how gloomy and dark things may appear, there is good news that that is not the last word.
That was the kind of good news that motivated the apostle Paul to travel all over the place telling people. Therefore as Christians we have decided that what Jesus said was true and that the “Good News” is good news and we can actually dare to believe it and we can dare to build our lives around it and we can dare to live with confidence that the good news is actually true. But it’s only those who have a grasp on how bad the news could actually be who get a really good grasp on how good the good news really is.
And this is one of reasons why American Christianity tends to run a mile wide and an inch deep. Because we really don’t get it. Life is pretty good for most of us. So the good news doesn’t seem all that good in comparison. but think about it. this is of course the very thing that the devil doesn’t want us to do. To think about it. He wants us to be so busy with our jobs and our kids and our lives that we don’t stop and think about it. cause he know shtat if we stop and think about it and realize how serious the bad news is that we would start appreciating the good news.
Think about this good news for a minute. If you boil it down, it comes down to this; life is a waiting room. And whether you’re in the waiting room for two hours or 90 years it’s still a waiting room. And whats important about this waiting room is that there are only two exits. One that leads to being with God and the other that leads to being without God. And God gives you the choice. Leave through the door to being with God forever and ever, or leave through the other door. It’s not any more complicated than that. The question is what do we want? As CS Lewis once said “Everybody get’s what they want”. You get to choose and the great thing is that God isn’t going to force you. If God forced you to spent forever with him and you didn’t want to it wouldn’t be heaven it would be hell. He didn’t force Adam and Eve and he’s not going to force you.
When people realize what good news this is, their whole life changes. Everything becomes different. They used to look at God with fear or hatred and now they look at God with love and admiration and respect and longing for intimacy. They used to look at other people as competitors who got in the way of the life they wanted. But now they see other people as brothers and sisters in God who are on this same journey and there’s plenty of room for everybody. So everything looks different. The good news has a huge shaping moment on their life from that moment. So for people to really see the good news they must really see it as an alternative for the bad news. Until they do, the good news probably won’t be all that good, because the bad news doesn’t look all that bad.
Dr. David Vandenburgh Feb. 18, 2012; Kettering Adventist Church sermon “To The Church”