Which do you want first???There have been times when I’ve had to be the bearer of bad news. In an attempt to soften the blow I start with “which do you want first the bad news or the good news?”
But there are times where the news is just bad. On Thursday of this week Prince died, on the same day Target announced that it’s bathrooms were now gender fluid. Earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador. Continued unrest in the middle east, N. Korea preparing for a fifth nuclear test and the ongoing debacle known as the “presidential” race dissected and analyzed ad nauseam. Good news at least in the media was hard to come by this week
In the 21st chapter of Luke the physician records a conversation that takes place between Jesus and His disciples. The discussion begins when the people who are following Jesus point out the opulence and majesty of the temple. Jesus startles them by saying:
“Go ahead, look around, and be impressed; but days are coming when one stone will not be left standing on another. Everything here will be demolished.” Luke 21:6
Definitely bad news for a people whose social, religious and national identity is personified by this building. Understandably they ask “when will this happen? What are the signs it is about to occur?” The news does not get better.
Jesus tells them, deceivers will come in my name, wars with kingdoms and nations attacking one another, conflicts, famine, epidemics, natural disasters, terrifying things, shocking signs in the heavens, BUT, Jesus then gets to the heart of the matter, telling them about what will take place before any of the other events. They have to be thinking “can it get any worse?” Jesus assures them it will. He no longer generalizes about what is to come. He makes it personal. In fact tells them if they will follow Him for a season it will get worse…
But before any of this happens, they will capture you and persecute you. They’ll send you to synagogues for trial and to prisons for punishment; you’ll stand before kings and government officials for the sake of My name. This will be your opportunity—your opportunity to tell your story. Make up your mind in advance not to plan your strategy for answering their questions, for when the time comes, I will give you the words to say—wise words—which none of your adversaries will be able to answer or argue against. Your own parents, brothers, relatives, and friends will turn on you and turn you in. Some of you will be killed and all of you will be hated by everyone for the sake of My name.
But whatever happens, not a single hair of your heads will be harmed. By enduring all of these things, you will find not loss but gain—not death but authentic life. Luke 21:12-18
I would be asking as you might where is the good news in any this. But to understand why this is good news we have to understand what is at stake.
We all want the good news that comes from our relationship with Christ. But in this case I think we have to understand that the bad news is what makes the good news really good. Jesus said “This will be your opportunity—your opportunity to tell your story.” And then He says, “By enduring all of these things, you will find not loss but gain—not death but authentic life. This is what we miss so often in 21st century Christianity. To tell our story is why we are here. So that others will know about Him. To save our life we must lose it. It may come at great risk, even great loss, as it has for many Christians in other parts of the world. As I write this I am fully aware I have little idea of the persecution Jesus describes. But I do understand in the end what we lose is what we find. And by His grace I hope to endure whatever may come. I think this is something we must consider in the time we are in. Are we willing to endure, are we willing to live through the bad news until the good news comes… I pray that we will.