Satisfying the Hunger... is a blog written by the ministry staff of Evangelism & Church Growth
Easter is about Good News. You know as I was packing away all the Easter “stuff” until next year, while eating one of my daughter’s chocolate Easter eggs, I wondered, “How am I living into the Good News? As the music of the Alleluia Chorus begins to fade into the background and as my undisciplined pre-Lenten life finds its comfortable place back into my life, I wonder where the Resurrection power has gone, where is the Good News? As I John 1-2:2 (one of the lectionary selections from this past Sunday) reaffirms, Jesus is the “atoning sacrifice for our sins and for the sins of the world. He is our advocate with the Father!” Good News is about forgiveness, grace, resurrection and eternal life. But the Good news is so much more. It’s also about the transformation of people’s lives. It is about how transformed people become followers and disciples of Jesus’ way as well. It is about disciples joining with God for the transformation of communities, cities, cultures and the world. I wonder if sometimes we truncate the Gospel, the Good News sometimes. I wonder especially in regards to evangelism or sharing the Good News about Jesus whether we leave it at an individual who makes a decision so they can secure their place in the afterlife (Heaven) or for some escape the fiery consequences of Hell. What if accepting Christ is more than a decision, what if it meant transformation, what if it mean beginning a journey to become more like Him? Now that’s what I call Good News! I agree with Dallas Willard when he writes, “‘Gospels of sin management’ presumes a Christ with no serious work other than redeeming human kind…[and] they foster ‘vampire Christians,’ who only want a little blood for their sins but nothing more to do with Jesus until heaven.” Are we just well meaning vampires?
I wonder if for many of us we are living like the “undead”, instead of living into the fullness of the everlasting and abundant life that Jesus promises us, even in the here and now? The abundant life that Jesus wants to give you and me is not the Prosperity Gospel that we hear so much about in the North American Church. God is not some cosmic dispenser of goods and services. No, it is so much more. Being a disciple is about cultivating a vibrant relationship with Christ. Things like prayer, spiritual practices, spiritual direction, making other disciples, focusing on learning and living Scripture. It is also about joining with what God is doing all around us. It is joining the mission of God to forgive and redeem and save as well as to serve and provide for those in need; to stand with those who are oppressed and persecuted; to work for justice; to heal brokenness; to be reconcilers even as we are reconciled; it is to be with those who are lonely and sometimes forgotten; it is to bring the message of grace that only Jesus can fully provide. It means that we take seriously what Ephesians 2:8-10 says when we acknowledge that “we have been saved by grace trough faith (in Jesus), not by works…and we are God’s workmanship created for good works which God has prepared in advance for us to do.” That is great news, that is abundant life, that is purpose and meaning. Pay attention to the words, “God has prepared in advance…” When we share and serve we often think we are bringing God with us, when in reality God is already there at work in people’s lives. I like when Alan Hirsch said, “It not so much that the church has a mission, it’s that the mission of God has a church.”
Even as we are in the Shadow of Easter and return to the day-to-day rhythms of life, it is the power of the Resurrection that continues to empower us (through God’s Spirit) to live, embody and share the Good News with others. That is why I John 1:6 says, “If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true.” What the author of I John is saying basically is that we not only need to help disciples to “talk the talk” but also to “walk the walk”. The purpose of evangelism and the church is not just to count conversions or increase church activity; it is ultimately to make disciples. That is truly living into the Great Commission Jesus gives us in Matthew 28 to, “go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them…and teaching them to obey all that I have taught.” It is to see real transformation in lives and communities and the in breaking of the kingdom of God in our world. Oh Lord we pray, thy kingdom come, and thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, Amen!