It’s a new day

The proclamation of the good news includes so many things. It IS about Christ coming to die for our sins. It IS about what Jesus has done for us in his sacrifice and resurrection.

And… it is more. It is his rule and his reign that has come. It’s not your “normal” king, but he IS king nonetheless and his coming has immense implications. Not just for you. For everyone. For the entire creation.

It’s a new day.

And today, it is announced with joy. It’s a great Palm Sunday.

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion.
        Sing aloud, Daughter Jerusalem.
Look, your king will come to you.
        He is righteous and victorious.
        He is humble and riding on an ass,
            on a colt, the offspring of a donkey.
10 He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
        and the warhorse from Jerusalem.
The bow used in battle will be cut off;
        he will speak peace to the nations.
His rule will stretch from sea to sea,
        and from the river to the ends of the earth.
11 Moreover, by the blood of your covenant,
    I will release your prisoners from the waterless pit.
12 Return to the stronghold, prisoners of hope.
        Moreover, declare today that I will return double to you. (Zech. 9:9-12)

Not so smart criminal of the day

A drug ring gets busted in St. Paul, MN because customers finally notice a local pizza parlor didn’t seem to be open very much.

And then there’s this:

“On August 19, 2014, a concerned citizen made a report with the St. Paul Police Department that Papa Dimitri’s Classic Pizza and Ice Cream located at 466 Hamline Avenue South … is rarely open and does not seem to do much actual business,” said the criminal complaint. “The concerned citizen reported that employees have complained about the heat not working, which the concerned citizen thought odd since the pizza ovens should have provided plenty of heat.

“The concerned citizen said that the employees ate at another nearby restaurant, the Nook, which was also odd because they work in a restaurant … and it appeared that there were more children being babysat at the restaurant than actual customers.”

Tip of the Day: If you walk into a pizza place and it seems cold…

Plus, this “pizza parlor” was about a block away from a private high school… There will be some disappointed kids next Monday is my guess.

Why is it simply good news?

The good news of the Kingdom is quite simple. We’ve complicated it, or we’ve tried to reduce it to the wrong simple phrase. John’s gospel brings the simplicity of the proclamation of good news:

Now is the time for judgment of this world. Now this world’s ruler will be thrown out. (John 12:31)

The King has come. He wins. This is good news for those being set free (and realizing it). This is bad knows for the ruler of this world.

The implications of Jesus’ statement are far reaching and complex, but the good news? Simple.

Morning joe

Some fun humor to start the day.

Political humor:
If 67-year-old rural white men were the future of the electorate, the G.O.P. would be rolling. — David Brooks, New York Times 
(Of course, there is a group this will NOT find this funny…)

And some morning joe humor:

BC Cartoon for Mar/27/2015

Somehow we’ve turned the good news into bad news

In Simply Good News, Wright goes into far more detail as to how we’ve managed to distort the announcement of the good news of the Kingdom into one of an angry God and simple fragments of a much fuller truth. It is well worth the time to read through his fuller treatment of how we have gone from proclaiming the good news to offering “good advice” to fragmenting the gospel so badly we’ve reduced it to bumper sticker theology that leaves people with a sense that God is just angry all the time.

A couple of years ago I had a guest speaker at my church and as we sat for the meal before our ministry time, he just began with his theology of God being mad. “God really is mad.” He went on to quote several verses dealing with the anger of God toward sin. It was in that moment I really want to exhibit a bit of righteous anger myself and uninvite him immediately.

The fragments we use are true… to an extent. We need to understand that saying “Jesus died in my place” is true. But to let that be the central part of the good news proclamation is to miss the greater picture, in Wright’s view.

We’ve turned Christianity into a “system.” We have a “system” of thought, a “system” of evangelism, a “system” of what is “central” to the gospel.

Again, it is important to read Wright’s fuller treatment in the book, but his contention is that we are missing the fuller picture of the gospel. We miss God as Creator and we miss the whole idea of covenant. As Creator, the whole world belongs to God and he longs to put that world right at last. It is about ALL of creation being redeemed. You can’t read Romans 8 without coming away with that conclusion.

In covenant, God calls Israel to be his people. It is a call of love. The call to covenant comes out of a heart of love, not anger.

Wright does deal with wrath and the meaning of God’s wrath. He doesn’t negate it. He calls us to keep it in context.

God’s goal in the good news is the restoration and transformation of ALL creation. Then Wright really puts the hammer down on our slim, distorted views of how we see the “central” message of the gospel these days:

To imagine a gospel that has forgotten about creation and covenant; to imagine a gospel with an angry deity who is pacified only by the blood of an innocent victim; to imagine good news that, instead of restoring and completing the work of the world’s creation, is prepared to throw away the world and take some people (“souls”) to a different location, namely a disembodied heaven — this picture looks far more like a complicated form of paganism than genuine biblical Christianity. (p. 74)

Somehow, we’ve turned the truly good news of Jesus Christ into some really bad news.

It’s time to re-think our view of the Kingdom of God.

It is simply good news

I am starting into NT Wright’s book, Simply Good News: Why the Gospel is News and What Makes It Good. 

As usual with Wright at this point in my life, it is refreshing reading. Wright has done such a marvelous job of paring down issues over time. He can be as complicated as the next scholar. Here, he keeps it basic.

It’s about good news. What we offer today most of the time is good advice.

For Paul the apostle, it boils down to this:

God had come in the person of Jesus; God was coming, to the whole world, in the presence and power of his Spirit wherever the good news was announced. And one day — the God now made known in Jesus — would come back to finish the task, to be all in all, to fill the world with his glory and love, to transform everything, to rectify everything, to heal everything with his powerful love. (p. 34)

THIS is some good news! The desperate need of our day is to recapture this vision of good news. It is something to proclaim, to live out, to stay passionate about. This good news is also a scandal and foolishness. But to those who hear and receive, to those who are thirsty and find living water, it is good news. 

Jews go away!

Jeffrey Goldberg asks the question, “Is it time for Jews to leave Europe?” Somehow that is seen as an “intelligent” question.

David Brooks has a more thoughtful response to the rising anti-Semitism brewing once again in Europe.

Thousands of Jews a year are just fleeing Europe. But the best response is quarantine and confrontation. European governments can demonstrate solidarity with their Jewish citizens by providing security, cracking down — broken-windows style — on even the smallest assaults. Meanwhile, brave and decent people can take a page from Gandhi and stage campaigns of confrontational nonviolence: marches, sit-ins and protests in the very neighborhoods where anti-Semitism breeds. Expose the evil of the perpetrators. Disturb the consciences of the good people in these communities who tolerate them. Confrontational nonviolence is the historically proven method to isolate and delegitimize social evil.

For our morally relativistic society in the U.S., it is past time to wake up and realize that real evil exists. For our “shoot first, ask questions later” subset, we need to realize there are more reasoned, peaceful, powerful ways to confront evil as well.