It is a bad news good news thing
May 17, 2014 § 33 Comments
In my previous post I made the radical offhand observation that Christianity really, actually is good news to those who hear it.
Christians are puzzled about how to convince modern man that Christianity is good news. But the reason modern man does not see Christianity as good news is because modern man has become very, very good at hiding from bad news. I will argue that this is not really a problem for Christians interested in evangelizing modern man though, and does not require that Christians engage in any clever marketing or propaganda strategies or other lies-of-omission in order to get to a “baptism close” (or even a “keep coming to Mass and putting money in the plate” close).
I am going to do the traditional thing and talk about the bad news first.
The reason that Christians don’t have to teach modern man the bad news that he doesn’t want to hear is because, as much as he may try, modern man cannot escape the bad news. That cloud on the horizon that modern man tries very hard to ignore is going to get here, no matter what; and the timing and precise conditions of its arrival are in God’s hands not ours.
The bad news is that suffering and death are coming, and there is no way to stop them. The even worse news is that we deserve it.
Christianity has the good news, is the Good News, and I (literally) cannot summarize it. But Christ loves you personally, and all the bad news amounts to nothing next to being the disciple Jesus loves for eternity. (Naturally loving Him in return means that we will truly want to know what pleases and offends Him and act accordingly, not live in some deceived or immoral state where we do things offensive to Him without ever so much as being sorry for it).
But those whose ears are not thirsty for the Good News right now are absolutely guaranteed to be thirsty for Good News at some point. What precisely that point happens to be for individual people is entirely in the hands of Providence, not us.
So our job qua small-e evangelical Christians is to proclaim the Good News, in and out of season, in as plain and clear and honest terms as possible, so that those who are thirsty for it will hear it. (Possibly even to use words to do so when absolutely necessary). And it is especially important to proclaim the Good News to those who are thirsty for it right now: for those who know and are experiencing the bad news: the tired, the poor, the hungry, the sick, the repentant, etc.
But here is the thing: I don’t think it is our job, nor do I even think it is possible, for us to make people who are not thirsty, thirsty.