Thursday, November 25, 2010

Good News - Bad News

Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news
gives health to the bones.

-- Proverbs 15:30

Let’s say your spouse or your child – or maybe even your boss – approaches you and says: “I’ve got some good news and some bad news.”

How would you react to such a wide-open proclamation? It depends on several factors. For instance, you might be more wary of what your no-nonsense boss has to say than what comes from your playful 8-year-old son. And your guard might also be elevated if your mechanic or plumber was the last person who began a conversation with you that way.

On the other hand, maybe you’re an optimist at heart. For you, this good news/bad news conundrum means just one thing: an opportunity for something better.

About 2,000 years ago, some big news broke in an obscure corner of the Roman Empire. And depending on who heard it, the reactions ranged from fear and uncertainty to joy and anticipation. The news, of course, was the birth of Jesus Christ – an event predicted centuries earlier in the Old Testament. And for the faithful who were looking for a Savior to redeem the people from their sins, it was confirmation of God’s love and faithfulness.

For others – like the Romans who occupied ancient Israel – the birth of this so-called “King of the Jews” represented a direct threat to the land’s law-and-order government. King Herod (the hated Roman ruler) was both jealous and afraid. And he did whatever it took (including the murder of the area’s youngest children) to eliminate the threat as quickly as possible.

Centuries have passed since God came to earth through Jesus. But today in 21st Century America, we are still much like the people of ancient Israel. We too know that the Scriptures promise Christ’s return to free His people from sin and right the wrongs of the world. So now comes the question we must all answer: Is His Second Coming good news or bad news?

Like the hypothetical situation with your spouse, child or boss, the answer depends on several factors. Many will greet Jesus’ return with outright hostility because it means submission to Someone greater and the need to relinquish their plans and ambitions. Others – like many of the religious leaders in ancient Israel – will be indifferent. They’ve spent little time considering the return of The King of Kings and its eternal ramifications. But like those who reject Christ totally, this indifferent population will also be forced to bend the knee and confess that Jesus is Lord.

There is of course a third option that’s a bit more realistic: embracing Jesus now before His return – or before we die (whichever comes first). Doing so means rejection of our sinful natures and failed plans in exchange for the opportunity to live life to its fullest through God’s power. And better yet, it means an eternity of joy in His kingdom after the completion of our brief life on Earth.

How we respond to God’s Good News would seem to be a no-brainer. But the Scriptures tell us that most people will fail to take up God on His most generous offer. What about you?

“Come on now, let’s discuss this!” says the Lord. “Though your sins are bright red, they will become as white as snow. Though they are dark red, they will become as white as wool.

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