As I'm finishing up the ordination process in the PC (USA), there are a lot of interviews and questions and committees that need to be stood in front of. One of the questions I've heard the most is essentially "Why do you do what you do?" Why do you want to be a pastor? Why do you want to work with teenagers?
There are a variety of answers to this, and I usually make them more wordy than this, but they essentially all boil down to this:
I want to proclaim the Good News.
So it's been on my mind a lot lately to ask myself the question, what exactly is the Good News? I mean there is the standard Sunday School answer, to understand the Good News as Jesus Christ dying on the cross for our sins so that we can go to heaven when we die. Certainly that's all true and certainly that is indeed Good News! But I think there's more to it, and trying to figure out what that looks like is an exciting adventure for me.
Good News is telling a teenager who feels alone and lost in the bigness of her high school that God showed up among us as Christ, and remains among us through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Good News is telling her that she's not alone, and that she'll never be alone. Good News is seeing a group of teenagers give up their Saturday morning to give food to those who are hungry, and to see those same students ask folks who society long left behind for a good story, to invest in them, to humanize them. Good News is a round of dodgeball and laughter for a group of students who are so over committed and over stressed that they forget what it means to be a kid in the world. To proclaim Good News is to tell a student struggling with thoughts of suicide that this life matters, that they matter, that their friends are here for them, and to see them get the help they need. Good News is seeing a confirmation student get it, the great "A ha!" moments of ministry, to watch as they fall in love with their savior.
If you hadn't guessed, these are all Good News moments that I've experienced in the last few months. These are not hypothetical situations, but real life happenings. And there is no way that I would be able to recognize and participate in these Good News moments without the power of the risen and reigning Jesus moving in and through my world. I am convinced that there is no Good News out there that doesn't have Jesus pulsing just behind the surface of it.
And this is why I do what I do. This is why I went to seminary, jump through all the hoops of ordination, write statements of faith and give oral trials on Thursday. Because I cannot look at the world without seeing humanity in dire need of Good News. Turn the TV on for even a few moments and you'll see it. Read the paper. Go on Facebook. Walk through the mall. I think now more than ever our world has recognized that we're in pretty dire need of Good News.
You and I are tasked with giving the world Good News. But there are two things that this is not, and we need to avoid them.
First of all, this is not just giving the world some basic formula about Jesus. Again, I'm all about the Jesus died so we can go to heaven news. That's real and true and good, and I celebrate it. I truly base my life around it. But to someone who has never tasted and seen the goodness of this life, the promise that it goes on forever may not be the most reassuring. What I think people need to see is the Good News of how Jesus is at work in their lives in the present, right now. How is Jesus at work in the office building? Or the Starbucks? Or the newspaper? People need to see the goodness of Jesus in the present before they will be able to comprehend the goodness of Jesus in the perfect future. Thanks be to God then that Jesus Christ is alive and well and moving in our midst! Thanks be to God that the Holy Spirit, the presence of God, is actually alive and well and dwelling inside each and every one of us! Earth is not a waiting room. It is a Holy Laboratory.
But the second thing we need to recognize is that we ourselves are not the Good News. It isn't you or me that can turn an awful situation around and make it beautiful. We are not the heroes of this story. Instead what we do, when we are present and aware of it, is that we participate in what Jesus is already building. Believe me this is not some passive passing the buck so that we don't have to do anything approach, it's just a matter of making sure that our hearts are in the right spot. Jesus Christ is King, and we are his subjects. This helps us keep our egos in check, as well as make sure that we're not trying to shoulder burdens that don't belong to us. Jesus Christ is the author of Good News. We're the delivery team.
And there's the urgency. The world needs Good News, and we're called to deliver it. We're like Holy Tour Guides. We go around the world and point out where Christ is active, moving, and real. It's not hard to find, so long as we have eyes to see and ears to hear.
So get out there friends. The world needs to hear Good News.