“Good News” or “Good Advice”

What you may be hearing each week, as you sit in a gathered church worship, may be nothing more than “good advice” rather than the “good news” you went to hear.

“In many churches, the good news has subtly changed to good advice: here’s how to live, they say.  Here’s how to pray.  Here are techniques for helping you become a better Christian, a better person, a better wife or husband.  And in particular, here’s how to make sure you’re on the right rack for what happens after death.  Take this advice: say this prayer and you’ll be saved.”  –N.T. Wright, Simply Good News

But for Jesus, the New Testament writers, and early Christians the “good news was about heaven coming to earth.”  Put another way, it is about the King’s rule impacting earth and what earth would look like as a result.

So what do we mean that the gospel is good news and not good advice?  With the help of N.T. Wright from his recent book Simply Good News, I believe we should bear the following in mind as we seek a better understanding.  First, it is news that has been announced, because something has happened.  Second, because of what has happened, as with the announcing of any news, things are NOT the same.  And third, something is going to happen because of that initial event.

This is what we see in the New Testament.  This is what we see in the early Christians: because of what had happened–the good news–their lives were transformed.  Things were different now.  They had a different outlook on the world and everything around them.

This is what happened in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, through whom God has invaded earth, or rather, returned as its rightful king, to redeem, to restore, to renew.

Jesus died and rose again.  Since then, things have not been the same.

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I Too Have a Dream

imagesCARVDZ7T“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”  —Martin Luther King Jr

We must continue to have honest dialogue about race relations in this nation.  Things are not as they should be when it comes to race.  There continues to be a mass incarceration of black males.  Black children continue to be marginalized.  Just take a look at the school systems.  Unemployment remains high among black.  Blacks are more likely to be pulled over by police officers than anyone else.

I continue to pray for a better America, for racial healing in our land, because God knows that we’re not doing too well.

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Russell Moore on the Church’s Role in Racial Reconciliation

RacialReconciliationinthechurchWe ought to be reminded though that in a racially divided world, the church of Jesus Christ ought not simply to advocate for racial reconciliation; we ought to embody it. We ought to speak to the structures of society about principles of morality and righteousness, but we also ought to model those principles in our congregations. The quest for racial reconciliation comes not just through proclamation but through demonstration.” –Russell Moore, emphasis added

The above was taken from a post by Russell Moore, after the unrest in Ferguson, MO, which was caused by the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by the hands of a white police officer.  The full article may be accessed here.

The church must lead the way in this matter.  She cannot afford to remain silent.  The world is watching, and I’m afraid to report, that the church is failing miserably on a whole.

Russell Moore is president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the moral and public policy agency of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

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Rejecting Silence in the Face of Injustice

Isaiah prophesied that God’s Messiah would bring peace and justice to humanity (7:6-7).  When God’s Messiah was manifested in the flesh, he was about peace and justice (Matthew 23:23-24).

His kingdom is about peace and justice (Romans 14:17.  And it is this kingdom reality that inspired the Civil Rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, to write from his jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama,

“Injustice anywhere is a threat against justice everywhere.”

It is this same quest for peace and justice that should arrest the hearts and minds of God’s people (pun intended).  But when it comes to the privileged white church in American, this is hardly the case.

With the recent shooting of unarmed black men by white police officers, when some are calling for the white American church to take a stand, though some have spoken out, the majority are silent.

As one social critic has recently pointed out, “White Christians need to be more Christian than American,” noting the silence and apathy of the white church in the face of injustice.

Yes, in a culture which continues to reel with the sin of racism, the church cannot be silent, especially our white churches.

What justification is there for this deafening silence?

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On Worship and the Sacraments

“In worship, God gathers us to reorient us as children of God, Christ meets us in Word and Sacrament to nourish our souls, and the Spirit renews us in our hope for the renewal of all things.” –Sue A. Rozeboom

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