The word means “good news” but in the minds of many folk, followers of Christ and others, it’s anything but good news.
At City Square we recently asked a group of leaders, some who have been in churches their whole lives and some who are relatively new to this Christian faith walk, what they thought of when they heard the word evangelism.
“People shouting on the street corner about going to hell.”
“People knocking on my front door warning me about impending gloom and doom.”
“Saying whatever it takes to sell people on what you believe.”
None of this sounds like good news.
The struggle with much of traditional Christian evangelism is that in order to get to good news, we first have to convince you of bad news.
“Sorry, but you’re going to hell. Scared? Well, you should be, but don’t worry, cause I’ve got the cure!”
Progressive Christians, who generally are excepting of a variety of beliefs and unbeliefs have a different sort of evangelical conundrum. Without coercion or the threat of hell, what is the good news we have to share with the world? If folk don’t believe they need to be saved then what is the point of the church?
The truth of the matter is, you don’t need to believe in hell to be effected by the brokenness of the world around us. While I may not fear my sin leading to eternal damnation, I know the pain of the Apostle Paul when he writes, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15)
I don’t believe that the pain and suffering I see in the world around me is the way the world is intended to function. I do not believe that the powers that lift some up at the expense of others is the way we our communities were intended to function. And I don not believe that my own short-comings, that keep me from being the man I want to be, the man I could be, is the way I was intended to function.
I believe that something is broken.
But I believe that there’s good news: The brokenness of the world doesn’t have the last word! I believe in a God who created and is still creating.
I believe in the kin(g)dom of God, a kin(g)dom of love, justice, health and wholeness that is available to us right now, and that is still on its way, breaking into the world each and every day.
I believe in a savior who came to reconcile me to my creator and free me from the death dealing powers of fear, scarcity, greed, and a hunger for power over others. I believe in a Christ who came to offer me instead security, abundance, love, and a spirit of peace in the face of the fleeting power of the world.
And I believe in a Spirit that works within me, helping me to grow into the person I was created to be , the person I want to be, and the person I could be still. I believe in the Holy Spirit which celebrates with me in my victories and supports me in the midst of my struggles.
In short, I believe that there’s hope for the world, for our communities, and for each of us, not just after death, but right here and right now.
Now that’s good news.