What makes the Good News, Good News?
Recently in a class I was part of, the question was asked “What makes the good news, good news?” The focus was narrowed a bit as a phrase was added “to Southern Oregonians?” or fill in the blank to whatever context you find yourself. Perhaps narrowing it down into our time frame “What makes the Good News, Good News to Southern Oregonians in December two thousand and twenty, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic?”
You have likely heard people speak of this pandemic as our defining moment, our WW2 moment, the greatest crisis of our time. And while I get what they are saying, death and disease are nothing new in the history of life. COVID-19 is just one more method toward a fate we all share, not to minimize the devastating loses of this current crisis. To lend a little perspective to our current and ongoing situation, here are a few numbers you might find interesting. Sourced at worldometers.info as of 10:30 a.m. this morning.
World Population: 7.78 billion
Abortions: 40,989,000 (not included in the death total for some reason)
- 3,000 a day in the US (voluntary reporting)
Under Nourished People: 848,217,000
Obese People: 772,191,300
Water Related Disease: 810,000
Seasonal Flu: 471,000
Traffic Accidents: 1,299,000
The single most dangerous place in the world? A mother’s womb. Only two in every three make it out alive. Let that soak in.
As startling as these statistics might be, they are just symptoms. They are symptoms of a much greater problem. The 7.78 billion people making up the world’s population have at least three things in common. We are all made in God’s image, that image has been marred by sin (Adam’s sin and our own), all of us have sinned, so all of us will die. One out of every one. 100%. And on our own there is no cure, no vaccine, no anti-dote.
One aspect of the good news is that we are not on our own. We are not alone. Whatever you are facing right now, God knows, and He cares.
Paul writing to the Corinthian church gives us what is probably the earliest written summary of the gospel or good news. Representing what had likely become a creed, having been written within 20-30 years of the crucifixion and resurrection.
“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-26)
Our greatest enemy, death, defeated. As Revelation 20:14 tells us, thrown into the lake of fire along with Hades, the abode of the dead. Now that is astoundingly good news! Not a cure for one of many symptoms but the complete and utter destruction of death and therefore sin as well. Which is anything God would not say, do, or think. Indicating that everything is under complete subjection to Him.
A restoration of the Kingdom, God reigning as King:
What’s not to like about that picture? A ruler worthy of being committed to his own glory but loving and caring for those he rules!
This is the Kingdom Jesus came to restore. What Adam had lost in the Garden of Eden; Jesus restores. God desires relationship, obedience, to reveal knowledge on His terms so that everything is under His subjection. Adam and Eve chose to do things on their terms and brought sin and death into the world. Jesus came and did things on God’s terms and restores righteousness and life in the world.
He continues that same work today, tomorrow and until the coming judgment. So, as it is said if today you hear his voice do not harden your hearts but receive the gift of salvation with gladness and rejoicing.
What makes the good news, good news to Southern Oregonians in the midst of a worldwide pandemic? Primarily the same thing that has always made the good news so good, no matter what new wrinkle the enemy throws at us. We no longer need live in fear since we have a glorious King that has sacrificed on our behalf to bring about the reality of His kingdom.
When the mess that is 2020 is weighing on your mind causing stress, frustration, grief, or any number of depressive emotions you may be dealing with, focus on the good news and the coming Kingdom. A Kingdom of life where death cannot exist. A Kingdom of creativity where the second law of thermodynamics cannot exist. A Kingdom with love where fear cannot exist. A Kingdom where we are communing with and living in harmony with the creator of the universe; doing and learning things on His terms which are just and right and holy and pure, good in every way; no more death, no more tears – come quickly Lord Jesus.