\”Concepts create idols, only wonder grasps anything.\” – Gregory of Nyssa

Have You Heard the Good News???


My good friend Michael Coghlin and pastor to Connections Christian Church wrote an article not to long ago looking at Good News and the way many of us might struggle with the word “Evangelism”. Take a read and maybe weigh yourself into the conversation… What stops you from sharing the good news?

Evangelism” can be a scary word. For me, it immediately conjures images of obnoxious street preachers shouting hellfire and brimstone, or door knockers handing out tracts to convince me I have an invisible problem and then (conveniently) giving me a when-I-die solution to that problem. Ask me to evangelize a stranger, and I get a knot in my stomach, my palms start to sweat, and I’ll find any excuse to disappear. But ask me about my iPad, and I turn into an Apple evangelist!

So,” I ask myself, “What gives? Why am I an eager tech-talker, but a hesitant faith-talker?” Here’s a few reasons:

  • The message of Jesus is exclusive, and bound to be an unpopular message in a tolerant-of-anything-but-intolerance culture;
  • Canadians are private, and what drives my life is reserved for discussion with my closest friends or psychologist, if anyone at all;
  • I’m ashamed of the things others have done in the name of Jesus (residential schools in SK, bombing abortion clinics, picketing with signs like “God hates fags”);
  • I fail to live completely into the Christian faith, and I fear that if I share it (the talk) I’ll be found out as a fraud (the walk);
  • I haven’t been taught to share my faith, and I hate doing jobs I’ve not been given the tools for.

Accurate though these reasons may be, they only address outside issues. They don’t press me to question, “Do I experience Jesus as good news? Do I believe Jesus is good news for my neighbours? Do I believe Jesus’ good news is worth giving anything and everything for (riches, career, family, reputation)?” We need to ask these questions.

But, if “evangelism,” “sweaty palms,” and “running away” are three sides of the same coin, then how we think of “evangelism” also needs a serious overhaul. Jesus proclaimed the “good news [Greek: evangelion] of the kingdom” as he healed many people (Matt 4:23). What we lose in translation is that Jesus’ speech and actions were evangelism!

If we are to redeem the language of evangelism, here’s a few thoughts. First, let us start thinking, saying, and believing “good news” when we hear “evangelism.” Second, let us scour the gospels to see what was “good” about the good news Jesus proclaimed and lived. Third, let us give ourselves to “good newsing” our communities—as good parents, good friends, good neighbours, good coworkers.

One response

  1. Don Boone

    I feel all the same feelings. I’ve tried to “do evangelism” the way it’s been modeled to me, sort of the salesman’s approach: find the person’s problem/ offer Jesus as the solution, but that has always felt very contrived. Now I find the best approach is transparency, to live the life we are called to in Christ and to have an answer for the hope that is within me. So eventually I need to say something, but what do I say? Paul said it best in the book of Romans, although he didn’t shy away from telling the Bad News if it made the Good News make sense. And I think his is one of our best biblical examples. I think that if we try too hard to concentrate on the ‘good news’ then we end up watering it down. It may seem like we’re building bridges but we may be doing very little to touch people’s lives with the real importance of the Good News. If we can find ways of communicating the situation the way it really is without candy-coating it: ie, God is just and holy and we are sinful, so we are deserving of God’s wrath. Our crimes necessitate punishment. But God is also full of mercy and grace and has expressed his love to us in final terms by sending Jesus who was perfect to take the punishment of our sins on Himself, so that if we put our trust in this act of mercy, God forgives us and gives us the righteousness of Christ. God is just and merciful. If we emphasize only one side we paint the wrong picture of God. God wants to be portrayed neither as wholly unapproachable nor as one who winks at sin. Again, the Letter to the Romans deals so well with this issue. It is a perfect expression of both God’s justice and mercy.

    April 3, 2011 at 11:17 pm

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