Telling The Good News
I've had this verse sitting in my notes for almost a year, and I read it about every other day, and try to connect with why I wrote it down in the first place.
There was something about it that just struck me, and I've learned enough after writing daily devotions for the past five years to know that sometimes you have to sit with something until it either sinks in, or the time is right.
I read the verse again today for the umpteenth time, and it finally clicked. Here is the verse:
7 Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8 Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?
If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me.
- 2 Cor 14:7-8, 11
I need to say that the Apostle Paul is talking about the act of "speaking in tongues" in worship in this part of his letter to the church at Corinth.
I'm not going to get into my theological understanding of speaking in tongues here.
Suffice to say, I've seen my fair share of instances over the years where people babbled away "in tongues" and not a dang person within miles knew what they were saying.
I've also seen some pretty mystical things as well that defied logic. But that's not what I want to talk about today.
These verses speak to me right now about the way that far too many of us who say we follow Jesus say things that absolutely miss the mark when it comes to the essential message of God's love that is at the heart of the Gospel message.
I have had to confront my own baggage with this very thing. I live and move and work within the Church, and it's far too easy for me to revert to church-y language, to talk around people at times.
And I'm also realizing more and more that there are hundreds of people who follow me on social media, watch my videos, listen to my podcasts... many of whom don't identify as Christian.
Some of them have reached out to me from time to time to ask for clarification about something I've said, or to wonder out loud to me how I could call myself a Christian when so many of the Christians they know seem to not be all that Jesus-like.
And there have been times when I have been called out for the same thing by non-Christian friends--not being more like Jesus. It's a painful thing to hear that, to be sure.
The question that we need to be asking ourselves as followers of Christ in this conflicted and confusing time in our history is simply this:
"Is what I am about to say helpful or harmful to the Good News of Jesus Christ?"
First, we need to be absolutely clear about what constitutes "good news."
The Good News is that because of Jesus Christ we not only have a clearer idea of what God is like, but we also have a very clear picture of how far God is willing to go to rescue us, restore us, resurrect us.
We also know this: The Good News is that God is absolutely for everyone.
If the "good news" is only for a few people who claim to have a monopoly on God's grace... that's not good news. If it's reserved for people who vote a certain way... it's not good news. If it's only for people who "behave" according to a certain set of rules... it's not good news.
Second, if anything we are about to post on social media, blurt out during an argument, or even a casual conversation is harmful and not helpful to the actual Good News, then it doesn't need to be said.
And here's the thing... sometimes when you say things that are helpful to spreading the Good News to people who need to hear it... it will upset people who think they know what the good news is all about.
You can't be afraid of that. Speak grace and peace into the world, and sometimes truth to power. Think about what Jesus would say. Season your speech with God-flavors.
There are scores of people watching/listening who need to have their minds changed about what being a Jesus-follower is all about, and you just might be the voice they need to hear.
May speak with boldness in love. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.