Is the Gospel really good news?
Ten years ago, a medical doctor delivered some frightening news to me.
I had just returned from a cross-country preaching trip to Washington where I caught the flu on the back end of a busy stretch. I was exhausted and my resistance was low. On the flight home, I literally passed out in the middle of the terminal in the Minneapolis airport. I promised God that I would go to the doctor if I got home alive.
The Bad News
The doctor examined me, but when he looked down my throat, he gasped! I struggled with hoarseness for years, and I knew I was pushing my vocal chords to the limit.
"I have bad news. Your throat is a mess. You have scar tissue on your vocal chords and what looks like small nodules. If you don't slow down and rest, your preaching career could be over."
That is bad news. Especially for a guy who makes his living using his voice. No one enjoys hearing bad news like this, yet we all know that when something is terribly wrong, we need to hear the bad news. We will even pay someone to diagnose our problem and give us the bad news, straight and honest.
For so many people, that's how they feel when someone starts talking to them about God or religion. They assume it's going to be all bad news. God hates them. God is angry at them because they have too much sex, they curse too much, they drink too much, or they look at porn too much. Many people intuitively react to Christians the same way I react to the doctor: We are sure it will be nothing but bad news.
But There's More
When the doctor delivered the bad news about my voice, my gut reaction was to ask a simple question: "Is it too late? Can I do anything to get better?"
The doctor had good news for me. It wasn't too late. Things could be changed. My sickness could be reversed, but it wasn't going to be easy. It would require a total lifestyle change. I would need to rest more and speak less. Stay home more and travel less.
So essentially, the bad news had to be delivered before I was ready to hear the good news.
As people who believe in the Gospel and live by the power of the Gospel, this same truth applies to us. Until we know how sick we really are, we don't even recognize our need for healing. The bad news awakens an awareness in us that we need the good news.
The Good News
Yet when we share our faith with others, both with our words and with our lives, it's essential that they see and hear the good news and not just the bad news. They need to know what Jesus has done for them and what He can do for them — how He offers forgiveness and pardon of sin, new life, restored relationships, and fresh perspective on all things. Our lives bear witness to how good the good news really is.
When people who don't follow Jesus talk to us, serve us at a restaurant, sell us a car, or take our money at the grocery store, will they inwardly be repelled by our attitudes or drawn to our joy? Will they feel condemned and hopeless or will they see hope in us that good news is on the horizon for them?
We are people of the Gospel. Good news makes people happy. We, of all people, should exude uncontainable joy because we are the recipients of the Gospel. Let's take that good news to the world.