Skip to main content

Good News ain't no "Stewart Smalley Daily Affirmation" stuff: it's solid Biblical Theology

You know how every once in a while, when you're having a challenging week or a tough day, someone will send you, or you'll stumble on just the right word or phrase or thought-- some encouraging word that hits you like one of these cool late September breezes?

Well not long ago, a colleague and friend of mine sent me a couple paragraphs from a book she's reading by the author Steve Backlund that did that for me:

"'Good tidings of great joy' is the first thing that is said in the angelic announcement.

"Let that sink in for a moment.  

"The angel did not say, 'I bring you news of a teaching that I hope you can follow,' or, 'I bring you news that Jesus is coming; and boy, is he mad!'

"No, the message was, 'It's time to celebrate! God is doing what you couldn't. He is making a way where there was no way. You are being saved from the curse, rejection, shame, punishment, poverty, sickness; and from performance-based living. The door is being opened to eternal life; intimacy with the Father, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and so much more. It is incredible, joyous news!'"

That quote not only provided a lift when I needed it, it got me to thinking:

First, this isn't some cheesy Stuart Smalley-esque Daily Affirmation that is being offered here: it's solid Biblical theology. (Even if most Christianity (or most Christian preachers) seem to have forgotten it.)

And second, it reminded me about something else, something that the author John Eldredge writes about, and that is that there is a "minor theme" in the Bible, and a "major theme" in the Bible, and Christianity is constantly getting it wrong.

A "minor theme" of the Bible is disease, brokenness, sin, and suffering.

The major theme of the Bible is healing, wholeness, forgiveness, and joy.

The minor theme is emphasized in season of Lent, and certainly Holy Week: Maundy Thursday and Good Friday when we remember Jesus being betrayed and crucified, when we reflect on humanity's dis-ease, brokenness, sin and suffering.

The minor theme is important.

After all, the first step in healing a disease is diagnosis: knowing what's wrong.

And if you're trying to try to put something back together (whether it's a vase or a human heart) you can't just wave your hand over it; you have to pick up, and deal with the broken pieces.

And if there's going to be forgiveness, well, that assumes that some wrong is not being treated lightly, but is being taken seriously.

And joy is often the result of not bouncing off of, but going into suffering.)

But unfortunately what Christianity has gotten wrong for much of its history and still gets wrong in so many ways today, is that in Scripture - in the Bible -
the major, and primary theme in Scripture is human healing, wholeness, forgiveness, and joy.

What Lent and all that suffering point to is NOT the cross, but the empty tomb: Easter Day, Easter season, and the season following Easter, when we remember stories of Jesus' healing touch, bringing people to wholeness, his forgiveness, his joy.

That is the major theme of the Bible.

So...not only for today, and for Sunday, and for Advent and Christmas, but throughout the year:  

"Good tidings of great joy" to you.  

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

If there's a will, there's a way.

For Lent, I was thinking of doing the typical fasts: fast from Facebook and take up reading, fast from petty vices like overindulging in sweets and alcohol and take on moderation, yada yada yada.
But I'm re-thinking that this year.
What I'm fasting from this Lent is discouragement. That means cutting back on what is so often the source of discouragement, which is a tendency to gorge on, or dwell on, bad news.
(Let me be clear: that does not mean giving up news or otherwise burying my head in the sand: it means staying informed while finding ways not to get pulled into a downward spiral of feelings of numbness and helplessness; it means giving up unproductive feelings like hopelessness and resignation and taking on visible behaviors like giving encouragement and taking action.)
It means making visible -- here, on my blog, and even on Facebook -- the good.
Because the problem is -- to paraphrase the community organizer Rich Harwood -- a lot of times we see "good news stories…

Fasting from Discouragement, Making Visible the Good

So for Lent, I was thinking of doing the typical fasts: fast from Facebook and take up reading, fast from petty vices like overindulging in sweets and alcohol and take on moderation, yada yada yada.

But I'm re-thinking that.
Now one of the things I'm thinking about fasting from during Lent is discouragement. That means cutting back on what is so often the source of discouragement, which is a tendency to gorge on, or dwell on, bad news.
That would mean taking on encouragement: to make visible -- even on Facebook -- the good.
Because the problem is -- to paraphrase the community organizer Rich Harwood -- a lot of times we see "good news stories" as being quaint -- they are tossed in at the end of the news as an inspiring story, or put in the style section. But stories of good things happening -- people coming together to do things, is not a touchy-feely, feel-good story, but something affecting real change.
So for starters: I'm inspired by the leadership example of…