What is the Good News? What makes the Christian gospel such good news? It’s obviously a play on words, since gospel and good news mean the same thing, so one is actually the same as the other. But having stated the obvious, what does that actually mean? What is the good news for us today, that is embodied in the message of Jesus?
I asked this question last week to a small group at my church. Together we are planting a new congregation aimed at sharing the message of Jesus with young professionals working in central London. So we talked through what words or promises of Jesus we thought were especially good news to people working in 21st century London. We highlighted the following four:
Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
I have come that you might have life in all its fullness. (John 10:10)
Do not worry about your life. (Matthew 6:25)
Your faith has made you well. Go in peace. (Mark 5:34)
Each of these verses are amazing pieces of good news from Jesus, and each one we think resonates with people in our culture. For people who are worried, wearied, unwell, and looking for a deeper life, Jesus’s words offer us amazing comfort and good news. He came to bring us rest, life, healing and peace. So we’re going to try and base our new congregation around these promises that Jesus offers.
Interestingly, during our discussion, when we listed around 20 verses from the gospels that we thought were Jesus bringing good news relevant to our culture, not once did we talk about the fact that Jesus saves us from our sins. Now the fact that we are saved is undeniably good news. And those promises are definitely there in the gospels – we could have used this passage.
Your sins are forgiven. (Mark 2:5)
But none of us suggested it, since forgiveness of sin is not felt as an acute need in our culture; certainly not in the same way as worry, weariness, illness and a desire for life in all its fullness are felt needs.
What is the good news? The fact that Jesus saves and forgives our sins is definitely part of it. But maybe we need to emphasize more some of these other promises of Jesus first. Maybe those of us in the UK, and those in other post-Christian societies, should do this more. And when people realise that Jesus wants to trade their worry, their weariness and their sickness for a deeper life in him, they’ll also find forgiveness of sins too. Now surely that’s definitely good news.
Mark Williamson works as a director of One Rock. He’s an experienced leadership trainer, author of biographies on John Wesley and William Wilberforce, and is also passionate about praying for London. He enjoys good films, good food, and going for long walks with his wife Joanna. You can follow him on Twitter @markonerock.