A Little Good News

Back in my youth (which feels pretty WAY back these days), Anne Murray sang a song with the memorable refrain: We sure could use a little good news today…

Among today’s bad news headlines — a conspiracy of silence that helped unleash a child predator for more than a decade… a deranged young man targeting moviegoers with deadly gunfire… doomsday economists predicting a fall off the “fiscal cliff”… totalitarian governments targeting their own citizens for repression or even genocide… We are saturated with news of tragedies and threats.

We sure could use a little more than a “little good news.”

And that’s where you and I come in. More to the point and the purpose of our lives, the world’s need is where Jesus Christ comes in. God INcarnate, Jesus Christ embodies God’s intimate sharing and caring for us in our difficulty and desperate times. He who died and rose FOR US is the Good News — God is not leaving us to chance or fate, but God actively and compassionately works to redeem us from the power of evil and sin.

It is tough, in the face of day to day bad news, trusting God’s goodness to prevail. And yet, our God, who shares our wounds and suffering in Christ, “desires to accomplish divine purposes in the world not through raw power but through building up the faithfulness of God’s own people” (Stacy Johnson). God’s response to evil and suffering enlists you and me.

The recent recruiting campaign of the United States Marines raises an important question: “Most people hear the sound of chaos and run the other way… which way will you run?” Disciples and apostles of Jesus Christ ask every day: “Where is Jesus leading me? Where is Jesus sending me?”

Through Jesus Christ, you and I turn toward and enter the world’s hurt, bearing Good News. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are given good words and works as our life’s calling. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we trust that a little good word or deed can bring God’s healing Spirit to bear on the world. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we shine the light of God’s promises into dark corners.

Through faith in Jesus Christ, “I make it my ambition to proclaim the good news” (Romans 15:20). Through faith in Jesus Christ, we strive to “lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10).

To trust in our Lord and Savior is not to deny, ignore, or minimize evil and its impact on the world. Rather, we believe that God calls us to actively oppose and point out evil. In Jesus Christ, we meet suffering with engaged compassion and love. Through him, we counter the torrent of bad news with a cascade of good news.

In Jesus Christ, God gives us a lot more than a little good news.

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Then Jesus Gave Them

Luke chapter 9 verses 1 and 2 remind us that Jesus called his disciples together and, “gave them power and authority… and he sent them out to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal.”

Jesus called them.

Jesus gave them power and authority.

Jesus sent them out to proclaim.

Having returned last week from the Jamaica mission trip, and preparing for the Tuscaloosa mission trip later this month, I’ve had our (all disciples of Jesus’) call to service on my mind- specifically the call to many of us to participate in a church mission trip.  It worked out perfectly- dare I say providentially- that in our Acts Challenge, we’re in the thick of Paul’s missions. This week, he’s moving toward the end of his second journey and next week, he’ll begin his third.

By the way, why do we call the ones Paul went on “Missionary Journeys” while we call what we do “Mission Trips?”  His were longer, and, being recorded in scripture, have an air of ‘epic-ness’, but the two are really the same thing.  What did Paul do but receive power from God as a disciple of Jesus as well as receive a call by the Spirit of God to travel, proclaim the gospel, pray, work with and love the people he encountered?

People keep asking me how the mission trip to Jamaica went, and my response is always, “It was great!  It was hard, but it was great!”  The next question I often get is, “What’s it really like to do something like that?”  Well, it’s like nothing else.  It is living, completely and totally as a servant of the living God.  It is a time when faith is palpable, when the need is so present, when our calling is made obvious.  It is an experience that helps me, for one, relate to scripture: it gives urgency to the great commission, while making my role seem do-able.  Serving, this time in particular, has lent such humanity to Paul, who always seems so “big.”

Musings aside, a mission trip is a powerful thing, and it looks like this: We, who have received power as Jesus’s disciples are humbled to be called by the Holy Spirit. travel.  And we traveled and traveled… (see above)

We proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ- with our words and our actions.

We pray.

We work.

…and, perhaps most importantly, we love the people we encounter.

 

The rest, truly, is just details.