Do you like to hear good news? Probably. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like to receive good news. Well, I have some good news to share with you in this column.
People who resist the Christian message do so because they don’t understand the good news. Many people have a caricature of what they think Christianity is, and for the most part that caricature paints our message as being bad news — you can’t do this, you shouldn’t do that, anything you happen to like is somehow wrong and sinful.
To be honest, the reason most see Christianity this way is because that’s the way we often present it.
Saul of Tarsus thought the message of Jesus was bad news; he saw it destroying the religion he loved. He not only didn’t like Christians, he dedicated his life to stamping out Christianity.
Then, something happened, and the transformation in Saul was so great, this great persecutor of the faith became the great promoter of it. So great is this change, that even his name is changed (a big thing in Jewish culture). Saul became the Apostle Paul when he discovered God’s love and realized the message of Christ was great news.
Here’s a synopsis of the good news according to Paul, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again…
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15; 17-19, NIV84).
Let me summarize now this message. God’s love for us compelled Him to act in our behalf and that love compels us to act on His behalf. Before God ever asks anything from us, He first did something for us. He died so we don’t have to.
Skip verse 17 for a second and notice that what God did for us through Jesus is He reconciled us. When you go to divorce court, often you will read somewhere on the divorce decree these words: “irreconcilable differences.” Two people with irreconcilable differences”can’t get along and two people with irreconcilable differences certainly cannot coexist in any type of harmonious relationship.
You and I have irreconcilable differences with God. The Bible calls these differences “sin.” Sin builds a barrier between we who are unholy and the God who is holy. Most of us have the idea that a good God in heaven must surround Himself with good people, and if my good deeds hopefully outweigh my bad deeds, than we’re in. But that’s not how it works.
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah reminds us, “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” (Isaiah 64:6, NLT).
So the news Paul brings is that God did something about that sin in and through Jesus Christ. Dealing with our sins He has now made it possible for us to be reconciled, that is, in right relationship with Him.
Got your interest? Good. Space eludes me and we will pick up on this next week.
John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. For more information, visit the Gateway website at www.gatewaycommunity.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.