What makes news good news?
This is the question N.T. Wright tackles in his excellent book, Simply Good News: Why the Gospel is News and What Makes it Good.
His answer is that news, or news that is especially good news, is an announcement.
It’s an announcement about something good that has already happened (often unexpectedly). Because of this good thing that’s happened, things are now changed and things are changing!
We live in a news-saturated world. Much of is often not good news.
So, what makes news good news?
Perhaps an example of good news in our modern setting will help us answer this question.
Signing Day Celebrations and Unexpected Good News!
College football’s National Signing Day is an industry unto itself! It’s the day when college teams finalize their recruitment process for the coming year.
This process culminates in a day-long string of announcements about who is joining the team for the upcoming season.
Every fan hopes to hear good news from our team on National Signing Day.
Yesterday – Wednesday, February 6th – was this year’s installment of National Signing Day.
I learned, early in the day, that my team was celebrating some good news.
What Makes News Good?
But what makes it good news?
First, an announcement proclaiming something good has happened.
In our case, a particular player signed a letter of intent (an official document stating his intention to play on this particular team)! Whoop whoop!
Next, the announcement indicates that since this thing has happened, the way things are (i.e., the make-up of the team) is changing. The change, taking place right now, is for the better!
News that Something Has, Is, and Will Change
Let’s say, for example, that your team signed a blue-chip prospect at an important defensive position. Because your team signed him, the team is better at this position. As such, the entire structure of the team is now stronger, faster, bigger, better.
Lastly, for news to be good, it must also project a preferable future state of existence. This preferable future is so real that we begin to live as if it’s already true!
With the announcement of good news, many fans are now looking forward to and preparing for the return of their team in the fall. A preferable future is now in play, and we begin to live as if it is not only possible but probable!
News That is Good Ignites our Vision for a New Tomorrow in A Way that Transforms Today!
If you’ve been following my blog recently, then you know I am in the midst of a series about the church, our mission, and the Kingdom of God within and among us.
As such, I am addressing four particular areas that revolve around how the Gospel is (or offers):
- A New Message of Hope.
- An Invitation to a New Way to Be Human.
- A Commitment to a New Kind of Community.
- A Life Within a New Kind of Kingdom.
The Good News is still Good News
Do you remember when you last heard someone share the Gospel?
It was probably an obtuse message completed disconnected from life. The news likely began with some notion of God as a vengeful and wrathful deity and ended with a vague sense of the possibility of getting to heaven when you die.
The earliest proclamations of the good news, however, know nothing of this type of language.
These early proclamations speak of the inbreaking of the Kingdom in such a way that our present reality is changing.
While I hesitate to limit the proclamation to a set of bullet points, I would like to convey what I believe is the core of this original Gospel, Good News Proclamation.
The Good News of the Return of the King
- The Son, as promised by the Father and proclaimed by the prophets, has returned. He returned in human form and dwelt among (tabernacled with) us.
- As he dwelt among us, he proclaimed His coming as the sign of the inbreaking of His Father’s Kingdom.
- His chosen route to victory (ascending the throne of His Father’s Kingdom) is the least conventional route of them all: sacrifice and surrender. This signature feature of redemption literally flips the world upside down!
- His sacrifice, surrender, and death on the cross (at first looking like defeat) destabilizes the very structures of evil.
- His resurrection (victory over death and all its cousins (sin, shame, fear, etc.) reinstitutes and inaugurates the Father’s rule and reign, in a final and firm way.
- He then ascends to sit at the right hand of the Father. When He ascends to the Father, His Spirit descends to earth and remains with us. This ascension/decision reality invites us into a lifelong journey of discovering and exploring His good, beautiful, and grace-filled will. Further, by the empowerment of His Spirit, I now have the opportunity to extend His will throughout the world.
This means that the good news is – at its core – a message of great hope! A message of hope because what the Son has done. Because of what He has done, what He is yet-to-do is certain and unshakeable.
What He is yet-to-do is restore the heavens and the earth. This preferable future is one I now wait for and participate in.
The forgivness the Son offers, therefore, is not as much about me getting to heaven when I die as it is about Him getting heaven into me while I am alive.
This is good news.
Sadly, it’s news that’s rarely told these days.
Worse, the news that is told isn’t good news at all.
It’s time, past time, we reclaim what’s been lost.
Beginning with the Gospel as the good news message of hope, inviting us into a new way to be human, within a new kind of community, under the rule of a new kind of kingdom!
Disrupting to Renew!