I interrupt this series with a special good news bulletin!
“The good news is that Jesus of Nazareth was a real man, living and dying at a turbulent moment in real space-time history. His message, and the message that the early Christians called good news, was not how to escape that world. It was about how the one true God was changing it, radically and forever.
In Jesus God overcame the powers of the world to establish his rule of justice and peace, on earth as in heaven. Not in heaven, later on. And that victory is won not by superior power of the same kind [as the world] but by a different sort of power altogether. The kingdom of God, Jesus declared, runs on love.
This is the good news about what has happened and it looks forward to the good news about what will happen. The same God who made the world in the first place will restore and renew it in the end.
Between the good news of creation and the good news of the final restoration of all things—we find, third and finally, that the God who made the world is the God of infinite, exuberant, lavish, generous love. This is the center of the good news.
This is the basis of all other good news: that the power behind the cosmos is not blind chance, nor yet brute force, but love. It is a delighted love that celebrates the goodness and specialness of every part of creation and of the extraordinary, brilliant, pulsating entirety of it. A love that cares for and cares about the smallest creature and the farthest star. A love that made one creature in particular, humans, to share uniquely in the capacity to receive and to give love, and so to share uniquely in the vocation to work with the grain of the Creator’s intention, to bring his work to its wonderful intended fulfillment. There are many things in the world as it now is that conspire to make us forget this great truth. The good news of Jesus is there not only to remind us of it but to transform us with it so that we in turn may become transformative people.”
Last Sunday I was loitering in our church library waiting for my wife when I saw N.T. Wright’s new book, Simply Good News: Why the Gospel is News and What Makes it Good. It was an easy read; I finished it in a few hours over a few days. Although Surprised by Hope helped shape and articulate my eschatology and he is the world’s premier New Testament scholar in the English language, I would not say I have been a huge fan of Dr. Wright. I began reading his Justification book and gave up. I found After You Believe rather plodding. This “simple” book does for defining the Gospel what Surprised by Hope did for eschatology. Wright addresses those who complain about preachers who “don’t preach the Gospel”—usually meaning they don’t preach that you should accept Jesus into your heart so that you will go to heaven instead of hell. This is not the Gospel of the early church, he maintains, and not the Gospel that is good news for today. It was a refreshing statement on what the good news actually is. I have chosen a few quotes above to illustrate [See pages 13, 43-44, 139-140].
Now we will resume our series, but not business as usual, because this good news has transformed the world, including my perspective.