Good News

Excerpt from Velvet Elvis,by Rob Bell.

Another truth about the church we’re embracing is that the gospel is good news, especially for those who don’t believe it.

Imagine an average street in an average city in an average country, if there is such a place. Let’s imagine Person X lives in a house on this street. Next door is a Hindu, an on the other side is a Muslim. Across the street is an atheist, next door to them is an agnostic, and next door on the other side, someone from Ohio.

Imagine Person X becomes a Christian. Maybe she read something or had friends who inspired her to learn more, or maybe she had an addiction and through a recovery movement she surrendered her life to God. However it came to be, she became a follower of Jesus. Let’s say she starts living out Jesus’ teachings, actually taking him seriously that she can become a compelling force for good in the world. She is becoming more generous, more compassionate, more forgiving, more loving. Is she becoming a better or worse neighbor? If we are her neighbors, we’re thrilled about her new faith. We find ourselves more and more grateful for a neighbor like this. We wish more people would be like this.

Let’s make some observations about this street. The good news of Jesus is good news for Person X. It’s good news for Person x’s neighbors. It’s good news for the whole street. It’s good news for people who don’t believe in Jesus. We have to be really clear about this. The good news for Person X is good news for the whole street. And if it’s good news for the whole street, then it’s good news for the world.

If the gospel isn’t good news for everybody, then it isn’t good news for anybody.

And this is because the most powerful things happen when the church surrenders its desire to convert people and convince them to join. It is when the church gives itself away in radical acts of service and compassion, expecting nothing in return, that the way of Jesus is most vividly put on display. To do this, the church must stop thinking primarily in categories of in or out, saved or not, believer or nonbeliever. Besides the fact that these terms are offensive to those who are the “un” and “non”, they work against Jesus’ teachings about how we are to treat each other. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor, and our neighbor can be anybody (Jesus is actually giving commentary on Torah in his loving your neighbor command, specifically Leviticus 19). We are all created in the image of God, and we are all sacred, valuable creations of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Everybody matters. To treat people differently based on who believes what is to fail to respect the image of God in everyone. As the book of James says, “God shows no favoritism” (James 2:1-13). So we don’t either.

Oftentimes the Christian community has sent the message that we love people and build relationships in order to convert them to the Christian faith. So there is an agenda. And when there is an agenda, it isn’t really love, is it? It’s something else. We have to rediscover love, period. Love that loves because it is what Jesus teaches us to do. We have to surrender our agendas. Because some people aren’t going to become Christians like us no matter how hard we push. They just aren’t. And at some point we have to commit them to God, trusting that God loves them more than we ever could. I obviously love to talk to people about Jesus and my faith. I’ll take every opportunity I can get. But I have learned that when I toss out my agenda and simply love as Jesus teaches me to, I often end up learning more about God than I could have imagined.

Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis

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2 thoughts on “Good News

  1. “If the gospel isn’t good news for everybody, then it isn’t good news for anybody.”That sure sounds good?? But is it consistent with the Bible? The “Good News” or “euaggelion” in the Greek is “The Gospel”Think about what JESUS says in: Mark 16:15-16 “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”This Good News or Gospel is certainly Good News to “he who believes”, but it sure could’nt be perceived as Good News to them who “don’t” unless one would consider being “condemned” as Good News!This whole idea that we are not to “have an agenda” or we are not truly “walking in the love or way of Jesus” sounds very sweet, righteous, and accepting–but it sure doesn’t sound like the Bible!?!The whole idea of the “un” being devisive and unloving and Un-Jesus flies in the face of everything that JESUS Himself taught and said!Matt 25:32-33 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.Luke 12:42-46 “And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.2 Cor 6:14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?Jesus was sent by God with an agenda:Luke 19:10 “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”We can try to dilute it down with whatever we desire, but it was Jesus who established the “uns” and the “ins” and it was Jesus who COMMANDED us to “GO” with an agenda–to seek and to save the lost.Im sorry, but come on guys, please read the Bible for yourself–it is so important–(because) we have been told:2 Tim 4:2-4 “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage– with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”Is it not claer that this is what is happening?Acts 17:11

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