In April, we began our new sermon series, “Good News for a Change.” Over then next several weeks we’re exploring how the Good News of Jesus makes a difference in how we live, why Jesus matters to everyone, and how Jesus transforms everything. I often say that if the Good News of Jesus is not the best news you’ve ever heard, then you’re hearing it wrong.
For a long time, the Good News of Jesus has been tempered, reigned in, or twisted because we can’t quite believe that it’s possible that all Jesus says about us is true. As part of my first message on the Good News of Jesus I shared some of author Steve Brown’s big lies about the Good News. He says that there are a number of things that keep us from seeing the Good News for what it is.
Here are some of the big lies that we believe about the Good News:
- Caution. We need to be cautious about this Good News of Jesus. This ‘Grace thing’ is risky, we believe. What if people take advantage of God? What if people sin or say bad things? What if people don’t act Christianly? So we act as though we must be careful who gets in. We become gate keepers. This sense of caution is a lie. The truth is that we have all taken advantage of God’s grace, we all sin. No amount of sin management can do what being embraced by Jesus can do. We’re not to be cautious about the Good News of Jesus. We’re not to be managers of God’s grace, but people who enjoy it fully. We’re to step in freely and welcome others, no holds barred. The Good News of Jesus teaches us that love, not our caution, changes everything.
- Condemnation. We sometimes believe that we have done bad things and now we’re paying for it. This lie says that God’s forgiveness doesn’t fully cover you. You are going to suffer now, or later, because of who you are and what you’ve done. You deserve a lot more guilt before you deserve freedom from it. This is a lie. Romans 8:1 says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The lie is that you have to work hard to get God to like you. It’s so very wrong. You are already loved and liked by God. Jesus did the hard work, you get to enjoy condemnation and guilt free relationship. The Good News of Jesus is that forgiveness, not condemnation, changes everything.
- Control. We sometimes believe that now that we follow Jesus, we must control ourselves. “After all Jesus has done for you, now you have to pull up your socks and act like you’re part of the family.” ‘Real’ Christians have their act together. This is a lie. Another lie is that a pastor is supposed to keep you from sin, to put pressure on you to get your act together. That is a lie. Galatians 5:1 says, “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” Who has control? You? Your family? Your pastor? The law? Your money? Your job? No. We give control to the Spirit of God who is more able than all of these. The Good News of Jesus teaches that the Holy Spirit, not our control, changes everything.
Steve Brown’s book, “Three Free Sins: God’s Not Mad at You.” It might be a great book to add to your reading list this summer! The Good News of Jesus is better than you know!