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.