In the fall of 1983, a country singer from Nova Scotia first sang a song that, even now almost four decades later, sums up the contemporary scene. The lyrics that Anne Murray brought to the forefront of the country charts talked about the current news that we hear about on the radio and television and read about on the internet. News about murders and robberies; rapes and kidnappings; plane crashes and mass shootings; floods, fires, earthquakes and hurricanes; cold wars and hot spots; drought and famine and COVID; peace-keeping forces being attacked in Kabul and immigrants at our own borders. After lamenting on the discouraging and depressing that usually assails our ears and eyes, Ms. Murray speculates on what it would be like to have the evening newspaper and the network broadcaster declare, “Nothing bad happened today.”
Can you imagine? What would our world be like if, as the chorus to Anny Murray’s hit song declares,
Nobody robbed a liquor store on the lower part of town. Nobody OD’d; nobody burned a single building down. Nobody fired a shot in anger; nobody died in vain…
The final line of the chorus is a haunting, wistful summation of the way most of us feel after finishing the morning paper or flicking off the six o’clock or eleven o’clock newscast
Sure could use a little good news today.
It’s the End of the World!
Most of us are more than a little weary of the daily of gloom and doom that seems to make up our day-in, day-out news. When we pick up a paper or get on the internet, it seems impossible to not read about some senseless act of violence. It is inconceivable that we could turn on TV and not hear some environmental threat or some celebrity in a scandal. And in an election year the name calling, finger pointing, fault finding and mud slinging seem endless!!
In every generation, there are those who keep a close eye on this planet. They view the happenings in our society with a critical eye, certain that the “day of the Lord”is clearly imminent. Many self-appointed prophets are quick to point to the words of Jesus as proof that we are on the threshold of his return.
At times, the world appears to be teetering on the brink of extinction. As long as there are unpredictable madmen in position of leadership in the world, mankind still stands a hair’s breadth away from nuclear disaster. At other times, it appears that the human race is bent on self-destruction.
There IS Hope.
One hopeful sign is the fact that the positive, and inspiring things that are taking place are NOT YET news! By definition, “news” is that which is out of the ordinary. If “good news” was actually NEWS, it would mean that the wars, famines, floods, murders were the NORM!
If the news proclaimed “No Fighting in the World” rather than “Hostilities Erupt in Kabul” that would mean that the war-like situations abroad are the common element in our world, and peace was an uncommon visitor.
Another glimmer of hope is simply the fact that good things continue to happen in our world. People continue to minister to those in need—without being asked. Good still comes out of seemingly evil situations. Every tale of defeat carries with it a kernel of victorious truth: every note of despair is balanced by a chord of optimism: every moment of disillusionment is countered by a time for hope.
Surely with all the bad news, there is more good news than the occasional air lift of food and medical supplies or a once-in-a-while Good Samaritan story. Indeed, there is! The euangelion —the good news—that we have to share is the same that the man named Legion had to share with his family and friends. We have the same message of hope, love and change with the same directive from our Lord—”Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:19)
Good News: We Are Forgiven
What is the good news that we who call ourselves Christians have to share? Part of our euangelion is recorded by Paul.
The glad tidings we have to share with our world is that our sins, our short-comings, our failures and mistakes have been forgiven by the death and resurrection of the One called Jesus.
We Have a Second Chance
The second piece of “good news” we can share is also from Paul. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17). In short, because of God in Christ Jesus we have a second chance (and a third and a fourth and even a twenty-fifth) to get it right. God continues to give us a chance to start over and begin again, to take the broken, consumed and distorted pieces of our life and put it back together into a unified, complete, whole new creature—with his help.
We are FREE from Guilt and Condemnation
A corollary piece of exciting news is that we are free from guilt and condemnation. Again, the words of the Apostle Paul break the glad tidings—”There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) If God has forgiven us (and He has!), then He no longer holds us guilty for our sins and shortcomings. He does not condemn us. And if God does not condemn us, we can forget about self-condemnation as well.
In this world of comparisons, criticisms, and fault-finding, to know that God does not condemn us is truly good news. When we are free of condemnation and forgiven, then we experience freedom—the same kind of freedom that Legion experienced when he was finally released from bondage to his past. To discover that kind of freedom is to experience life in the fullest.
Go and Give the Good News!
For Legion, his world was full of bad news—wars within himself, hatred, violence, evil and pain. Then Jesus came and set him free. In gratitude, the former demoniac begged to be allowed to follow the Master with the other disciples. But Jesus would not allow it. He says, “Go home, Legion. Go tell your family and friends what God has done for you and what He can do for them. Your world sure could use a little good news today.”
Can’t your world use a “little good news” today? Have you told your world how much the Lord has done for you?