READ: Psalm 31, Isaiah 52-54, Matthew 3, Acts 10
THE BAD GOOD NEWS
The good news is bad to the one who enjoys sin or embraces deception, for the opening word of the gospel (Matt. 3:1-2) is “Repent!” John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, Stephen, Paul, and all biblical preachers have one thing in common: They are disliked for telling people that they are wrong. Our calling is to be another voice, in a long line of others, who have pointed out that humanity is sinful and only God can save. The “glad tidings of good things” (Isaiah 52:7) is often rejected by people because they are devoted to doing bad things for temporary pleasure. Good news is only good if people want to be rescued. If they don’t think they are errant, then good news is insulting.
The Psalmist acknowledged that he was a reproach among all his enemies and especially his neighbors (Psalm 31:11). We live with the tension of wanting to be liked while being obedient proclaimers. A worldview driven by cultural anthropology leads people to make concessions to culture in order to be accepted. Missional living guided by biblical theology leads people to prioritize the announcing of the King’s message, which inevitably makes them disliked by a substantial majority of the populace. This tension cannot be reconciled without heresy; therefore, it must not be reconciled. A priority on proclamation does not mean the messenger’s supreme goal is to be disliked–that is sheer folly. It does mean the messenger’s supreme goal is to be faithful to the difficult and glorious message no matter the cost. The message ultimately is the problem because it is resented for its opening line: Repent! Implicit in the call to repent is the unyielding reality that humanity is wrong and must turn from itssin. No one welcomes this message.
The good news is as astounding as the bad news is troubling. “And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all…. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him” (Isaiah 53:6, 10). As the hymn says, “And can it be that I should gain an interest in my Savior’s blood? Amazing love, how can it be?” But it is. Two uncomfortable truths make up the good news: Every man and woman is a sinner, and God died for humanity’s sin. The good news is weird and wonderful. Our role is to witness to the mystery. If we are but a voice for the marvelous, then it doesn’t matter what others think of us. We are not the point of the gospel. If our voice is rejected or silenced, another voice will rise, for the power is not in our voice, the power is in the message–for God is the message, God is the gospel.
What a comfort to not be the center. Acknowledging that God is the center helps us bear the scorn and reproach we cannot (must not) avoid, for ultimately God is the one being rejected. If we taste the rejection of God because we are unavoidably linked to Him, the cost is well worth it, for His acceptance is eternal and comprehensive. The good bad news is that the rejection of man is more than compensated by the acceptance of God.