A friend of mine invited a number of practitioners/theologians to reflect on the Good News. There is some thought provoking insight and encouraging dialogue taking place. Please check out the various entries.
It has caused me to further reflect on the good news…
The Good News about the Kingdom
The good news is about the kingdom of God (Mark 1:14). It is about the shalom, the Sabbath rest, that we enter into that will one day be fully realized upon the return of the King. It is primarily good news to be proclaimed: Jesus, the Christ, proclaimed this good news to the poor, proclaimed release to the captives, proclaimed the regaining of sight to the blind, set free the oppressed, and proclaimed the year of the Lord’s Favor (Jubilee). The year of Jubilee was a specific time that was set apart (holy); it was to begin on the day of Atonement when a loud horn would be blown and liberty would be proclaimed to those in slavery, the land would be free of oppression, blessing would pervade the land, and people would fear God and obey his commands (Leviticus 25). There is an intended relationship between the Year of the Lord’s favor and the kingdom of God: the Atonement of Christ ushers in this year of the Lord’s favor, bringing liberty to those enslaved by sin (Romans 6:16-23); a year during which God will bring justice to the oppressed (Luke 18:7-8); a year in which as God sets apart his people, who experience in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham (Galatians 3:14), and fear God, love Him, and obey the commands of Christ (John 14:21).
The Good News as Story
Jesus taught more about the kingdom of God than any other particular topic. After his resurrection, Jesus was seen by his disciples, “over a forty-day period and spoke about matters concerning the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3). The kingdom of God was central to the theology of Jesus. However, Jesus had a method of teaching that is often foreign in our culture. He did not choose an expository style of teaching, rather He taught about the kingdom using stories native to the indegenous culture, stories that would be memorably, that would reveal the realities of the nature of the kingdom of God through interaction with common cultural experiences… stories about weddings, banquets, farming, kings and servants, cleaning a house in order to find a lost coin, receiving a loan for investment purposes, etc… Other times, Jesus would take their every day experiences and capture the essence of the kingdom in their actions or the actions of others: while working hard earning a living as fishermen, giving money to the temple treasury, walking by a fig tree or a pool surrounded by the poor and lame, being slandered and attacked in court, being accosted by those possessed with demons, being surrounded by mobs of hungry people and faced with only a trifle of food, etc… These snapshots of life were forever captured in the minds of his disciples, revealing the nature and presence of the kingdom of God.
This should challenge us to think creatively about innovative, culturally relevant ways to proclaim the reality of the kingdom of God through the life experiences we encounter on a daily basis, looking for stories and experiences that capture the essence of the kingdom. Rather than primarily proclaiming a set of doctrines, we could consider proclaiming the story of a kingdom that was ushered in by a King who died for sin and rose again for those in slavery to sin so we could be released into His kingdom, transferring our allegiance to Him in loving obedience, and living in the fullness of the kingdom of God in the present, including suffering and righting injustice, while looking towards the future when our King will return and the shalom will be complete. At that time, we will dwell with Him forever.
Hearing the reality of the presence of the kingdom through the stories of people is a privilege… these stories tell of realities seen and unseen; they are often thought provoking, tranformative, and doctrinally rich.