Do I believe the news I have to share is good? Will it be proclaimed as joy and life?
Sure, the news of Jesus is good news: nuanced good news – it is full of tragedy and comedy, mourning and weeping, waxing and waning. In speaking of the Saviour I must speak of the need to be saved, uncover the threat of the holy and focus the gaze on the peril of the perishing. In the nuance we hear the Good News.
In enunciating good news to those who have nothing – to the poor in pocket, in spirit, in life – I must turn riches on their head and speak of the impoverishment of over-resourced, over-fed, over-indulged hearts. I must speak of the obesity of heart and body, of soul and mind, that diminishes as it bloats. I must illustrate that the mind is weakened, dulled, by edutainment and the palate is numbed by the saccharine of false gospels. I must look the rich in the eye and then whisper in their ear, “you are weak, poor and perishing”. Then the riches of the good news will gleam, entice and enrich.
In proclaiming release to the captives I have to point out the shackles of consumerism, materialism, religion, depression, desperation, comfort, injustice and complacency. I must speak of prisons: real and figurative. I have to tell men and women they are chained – often where they are most convinced that they are free. I have to tell them, “you’re a prisoner” before I can tell them that there is an open door. Then the liberty of the gospel is felt as well as heard.
In promising sight to the blind I have to speak of that which they not be seen – explaining the colours of hope to optic nerves of heart and mind, eyes and brain, that have never been enlivened. Just like Jesus, I must tell those who are convinced of their clarity that they are caught in the darkest of illusions and what they see they only guess at, and that which is not seen is that where life and light reside. When my words fill their sighted eyes with dim shadows and dark warnings, then can the Light of the World give them life that lights their world with sight. Then the healing of the gospel will be known.
In declaring freedom to those oppressed, I must speak to those stooping from their heavy burdens and happy enslavement. Those who are piled high with possessions, weighted down with worries, anchored in the Right Now but not the Not-Yet, who are abused by their passions and subjugated to the demands of culture, fashion, idols and cruel masters of all kinds – they must hear me say, “you are not happy, not free, not fully alive”. Then they may hear and know the sharp sword of the Spirit slicing through the ties that bind so they can learn a better burden – the bearing of lasting life and unfading hope. Then the goodness of the news will bring true joy.
In shouting out the news of The New Day, a new season, a renewal, I must explain the reality of God’s heavy justice, pervasive knowledge and uncompromising call. In speaking of jubilee I must explain judgement – God hates all injustice, poverty, prejudice, abusive powers, idolatrous godlessness, prisons, blindness, brokenness and death.
God hates, and calls hateful things hated, because He loves the world. Because He loves the World He sends His only begotten Son. Because He sends His only begotten Son, He sends His only begotten Son not to condemn the World. He sends His only begotten Son to save the World. He loves the World and sends His only begotten Son to save it. So anyone who trusts in and calls on and hopes through Jesus discovers Eternal Life in His Name.
And so we, as preachers are anointed and sent. We come not with our own words of comfort – they would be cold indeed. We come with good news of great joy. We come with good news of great joy for all people. God’s Word in our words expressed: enriching, freeing, sight-giving and life-imparting. God’s Word of great joy.
“I am not ashamed of the good news, for it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…for in it the righteousness of God is revealed, a righteousness that it by faith from first to last…”
If preaching is not good news, nuanced in the power of God’s righteousness, then it is not preaching at all.
“I bring you good news of great joy…”