Monday, January 7, 2013

The good news of the Gospel

The Gospel literally means ‘good news’. When people talk about the gospel or the Christian message, they are meant to be talking about good news. It’s the kind of thing that people are meant to be happy to hear, the kind of message they should get excited about. When people are told about Christianity, it should feel like getting the news that you’ve got a promotion or you’ve won the lotto or someone has paid for you to go on a European holiday. So why is it that when people hear about Christianity, they often feel like they’ve just been told that they’re going to jail.

Now the argument could be made that the Christian message is only good news to Christians. There are two responses I’d like to make to that. Firstly, not all Christians hear the Christian message as good news. They might have started off that way, but what at first made them feel like they were at a wedding now makes them feel like they’re at a court hearing. A lot of this depends on whether the church is heavy on the guilt or heavy on the grace. Or even if they understand and believe in the good news message of Jesus, what they hear from the pulpit may seem like the complete opposite at times.

Secondly, shouldn’t the Christian message at least look like good news – even for those who are not Christians? In the New Testament, Jesus and Paul preached the gospel. It was accepted and believed by people who had never heard of Jesus before. They accepted and believed it because It sounded like good news. If it was bad news, they wouldn’t have been interested. I believe that the gospel still needs to sound like good news to everyone today, even to people that aren’t interested in Christianity. Maybe one of the reasons why so many people are so antagonistic or disinterested in the church is because they only see it as a bearer of bad news.

For example, the Christian message is often summed up in this way: ‘If you are not a Christian, you’re going to hell.’ Doesn’t sound like good news to me. In fact, it sounds as though the ‘good news’ of Jesus has been warped into the ‘bad news’ of the church. It gets even worse when we consider all the other things that Christians are prone to saying:

  • All other religions except Christianity are bad
  • You are a sinner and need to be punished
  • God hates homosexuals and Muslims and those who have abortions
  • If you want to become a Christian, you need to change (because God doesn’t like the way you are)
  • Once you’re a Christian, you’ll need to stop drinking, smoking, swearing, having sex and doing all the things you typically enjoy doing.
  • If you don’t accept all the right doctrines, then you’re really not a Christian at all and you’re still going to hell.
  • Christians are better than all other people.
  • You’re just not good enough.

Now some of these may not actually be said, but they’re the kind of messages that people are getting from Christians. Doesn’t exactly sound like the kind of news that you break open the champagne and tell all your friends about now, does it? You could be forgiven for thinking that Christians don’t actually have any good news to tell.

But the message of Jesus is a good news message. As a Christian (yes I really am a Christian) I believe it has good news for everybody. Not just the regular church-goers and born again Christians, but everybody. And here’s what I think this good news is:

  • God loves you exactly the way you are.
  • Even though you’re not perfect, nobody is, but God accepts us anyway.
  • God wants to be in relationship with us.
  • God wants us to live full and satisfying lives and gives us guidelines for doing this.
  • If we want him to, God will help change us into the kind of people we want to be.  
  • Jesus died so that our sins may be forgiven.
  • We don’t need to earn our way into Heaven. We just need to believe the good news.

I am well aware that this is still not a good news message for all. Some choose not to believe. Some will reject Christianity no matter how it is presented. But at least it sounds like good news. And even if people don’t want to accept the entire message of Jesus, I hope that they can find something worth celebrating in what is presented here. I believe that our task as Christians is simply to present the good news. Whether people accept it or reject it is up to them. But let’s make sure we are presenting the good news of Jesus, not the bad news of the church.

1 comment:

  1. True most Christians are prone to condemning non Christians. What the have to remember is yes you must need Jesus but that is something that can not be forced. Even Jesus when he was here showed tolerance and compassion for non believers. This is a great blog by the way. I am a blogger as well.



Bookmark and Share

Blog Patrol