Lately, over the last couple of years even, we have seen a lot of bad news. The economy, politics and the actions of extremists have taken their toll on our world, our society, our country and even our church. We see a lot of attrition in the church and the dollars coming in for the good work that we do have been steadily shrinking for years. All over the world, there are Christians being killed for no other reason than their faith. So many churches spend their time of gathering for sermons spent preaching fire and brimstone, and preaching of the dangers and the perils of the non-believer. All of this is so very real, but guess what? The Good News is still Good.
Have you ever recorded a sporting event, hoping to watch it later only to have it spoiled by one of your friends telling you who won? I was so happy to see that DVR had become so readily available, as I am an avid sports fan. I love football, hockey and curling (yes, I know I am strange). The DVR is my friend, because I am a very busy person. Invariably, someone will spoil a game for me here and there, but sometimes I get to relish the unkown and the anticipation. You know what I know is true though? Do you know what game is already won? I am going to spoil it for those who do not know. The Good News is that Jesus wins in the end. He died for our sins so that we would have everlasting life. And because He wins, we win. Sorry if I spoiled it for you, but the truth is clear.
“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; oh here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above”
As Christians, it is our duty to cheer for our fellow man. To cheer and encourage those around us. Everyone around us. We need to cheer for the Sunday school teachers, our pastors, the couples who are having trouble but stay together no matter what, the unemployed friends and neighbors, the families who struggle to provide for their kids but still find a way to tithe and the people who come to Jesus, honest in their pursuit of the savior, who are willing to admit their addictions or their departures from the path of God.
It’s time to start spreading the Good News again, and we start right here. The church was always intended to be a cheering section for Christ. To champion the Gospel and the followers fo Jesus.
“You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.”
In this letter to the church of the Thessalonians, we see that the people have accepted the Word and have championed the Good News throughout their kingdom.
“8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia-your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead-Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.”
These people were so passionate about the Christ that their faith was evident to the surrounding countries. This is the cheering of the church that we desire to achieve. The spreading of the Word by the faithful.
I have five things to say that are part of the Good News:
1. The Creator knows you and loves you.
I am NOT an evolutionary accident. The skills and abilities that I have, my intellect and my personality, have all been part of the plan of the creator. There is no way that the things I hold in my heart were evolved from a primate. And, at long last, let me end the debate with this simple and fundemental question: If anyone truly believes that we human beings evolved from monkeys, then please tell me why… why are there still monkeys?
2. Death is Never Final.
Those golden streets that are paved in Heaven are waiting for us all. Jesus has prepared a place for us next to the heveanly Father.
3. Jesus Forgives and Restores.
Whatever has happened in our lives, no matter how ugly or tragic, Jesus is ready to forgive us and restore us to our full selves. He holds no account that we have to repay. His death has us paid in full.
4. You Cannot Earn it, it is Free.
Unlike some other religions would have their followers believe, Jesus has no entry fee. There is nothing to be “earned”, as long as you open your heart, confess your belief in Christ, you will be accepted into the Holy Kingdom. No charge.
5. You do not have to stay the way you are.
In my work for the Lord I have seen drug addicts, prostitutes, alcoholics and many other addicted people of despair drop the pain that they carry and come into the arms of Jesus. There is no person, no one, that is too far outside the love of Christ to embrace Him. You can come to Him, and he will accept you for who you are. You can change for the better, no matter where you are in your life’s journey.
11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD,
“when I will send a famine through the land-
not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.
12 People will stagger from sea to sea
and wander from north to east,
searching for the word of the LORD,
but they will not find it.
Is this the famine that we see in the world today? The starvation for the Word? Our world is desperate for a sign to lead us into the arms of the Lord, but maybe the reality is that we need to be driven by our faith and not by a sign. The real answer is within each of us. The test is to identify the faithful from the masses and bring the weary to Christ through the faith that we display. I myself have scratched the earth bare with my fingers screaming at the Heavens “why, why, why” when I have been desperate for answers. But the Lord provides for us all, and my questions are answered with my faith, and the cheering of others.
We need to be encouraging to our fellow man as Christians. We need to remember that there are other human beings that need us, and our faith. Someone right now is considering ending their life, and someone else is plotting to take another persons life. We need to remember that there are people out there questioning their faith at this very moment saying “why bother? It’s not worth it”. We need to encourage those people who suffer from addiction and those who might think there is no hope. And, at long last, we need to embrace those people who are on the fringes of society, just as Jesus sought out the people farthest from faith, and encourage them to come to Him for salvation.
There is a power in our faith, not one of voice or military prowess, but rather character and action. Our power comes from our faith and the good that is done as a result of it. Our power is the love of Christ and the welcoming embrace that is promised to anyone who opens their heart to Him. When I wake up in the morning to a new day, I ask myself how I can be a little more like Jesus today. How can you be a little more like Jesus today? Can you help me tell people that the promise of the love of Christ is still the same? Will you help me spread the Good News?