By Shannon Youell
When I pick up my newspaper at end of my driveway each morning, I walk back glancing at the headlines to see what catches my attention the most. Those are the stories I want to read first. What is the story underneath the headline?
Were I to pick up my newspaper and see the headline: “Good News! Becky Morgan found her lost hamster,” I would think, “well that’s nice.” And indeed, it is good news for Becky. But it doesn’t affect how I approach the rest of my day, let alone my tomorrows.
Or how about the headline this summer announcing that Canada had just purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline? That was good news for some, but not such good news for others who opposed it.
However, if the headline read that scientists had discovered the cure to eradicate all cancer, this would indeed be good news for many—if not all—of us. This story changes everything in regards to the ravishing of these diseases. This news gives hope for those who have the disease and relief for those who may find themselves or their loved ones in this place in the future.
Good news is something that has happened that impacts what is happening to them/around them, and will change what is yet to happen.
The Good News of God’s “Is-ness”
Those of us who have heard and believed good news that changed everything can likely pinpoint the aspect of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God that penetrated to the depths of our very souls. For some, it was the release from guilt and shame that the good news offers forgiveness into. For others, it was the aspect that God loves you; that God has always been looking for you; that you are not abandoned.
Others found the good news first in emotional, psychological or physical healing– demonstration that God truly is, and, in his is-ness, God is actively stepping into the darkest places of our souls with a holistic healing that begins to transform thinking, actions, motivations and the lens through which life is viewed. Some who have lived in rejection intersected the good news by being accepted, welcomed, given dignity, value and voice regardless of what separated them from both community and God.
These are but a few spaces where the good news intersects with God’s beloved image-bearers.
In Jesus’ encounters with people throughout his ministry, he found the intersection between the story of the person he was engaging and the Big Story of God. To the thief on the cross, good news was that he was forgiven, absolved, and entering with Jesus into a transformed reality of both an immediate and a future of restored relationship with God and with God’s community. God had not forsaken him after all, no matter what lies he had accepted and lived by.
For the cripple, the blind man, the woman with the issue of blood, the good news was that because Jesus had healed them, they could now be included by a community that treated them unlovable. This because was the catalyst for those to have their eyes opened to see Jesus as Lord and Savior as they recognized that only God-with-them could deliver them from the darkness of their world.
Fluency In the Good News
I believe our world is hungry for good news. Even as we lament the growing secularity in our nation and our world, the hunger for connecting with something greater than ourselves, that has the best interest and future for humanity does not wane. In fact, it seems to increase.
To engage in conversations with our not-yet-followers-of-Jesus family, friends and acquaintances, we must increase our fluency in the amazing good news that God is looking for us? Can we develop our listening skills and our care for, the stories we tell one another and listen to, always opening up the space of inviting Jesus as Lord into the very stories themselves. Can we thicken our understanding of the Gospel to see where Kingdom and salvation are co-existing aspects of God’s very good news and are both being realized here on earth as in heaven?
How we share the good news, and which aspect of the gospel is any one person’s entry point, requires us to be good listeners to truly hear where people’s stories, the place they find themselves in their current reality, intersects with God’s kingdom plan of Shalom of flourishing humanity that reflects God’s heart in how we love God, love others and love our world and submit ourselves to inviting Jesus into the situations where we see the miracle of Jesus is Lord reach deep down to connect with us in the midst.
On a personal note, I came to faith because I experienced God looking for me. The realization that, a) God was real (which was the initial question I asked “to the air”) and b) that this real God was looking for me was incredibly good news to me. It was this aspect of the gospel that then drew me to Jesus.
Those door-to-door evangelists had no impact on me with their “do you want to spend eternity in heaven or hell?” tracts. These were not things that concerned me. But the very existence of God looking for me was the perfect entry point for me. That doesn’t mean that those approaches are wrong or obsolete. Rather, if we desire to be sharers of the thick gospel of the Kingdom of God through Jesus, we need to listen well for natural entry points. Everybody believes in something; even if their belief system is “nothing,” that’s still a thing! It is here that we look to the Big Story for the intersection with that and begin.
Again, good news is something that has happened that impacts what is happening to them/around them, and will change what is yet to happen.
Why do I write this on a church planting blog? Because churches are planted as people who did not previously follow Jesus hear the good news in a way that connects them to God and the big story of God interacting with humanity. From there, discipleship communities grow into the places and spaces we live.