Good and Bad News
We can’t really appreciate the Good News unless we realised the horror of the bad news. So what is the bad news? Paul describes this by explaining to us that we are under the dominion of darkness (Ephesians 6:12ff). What Paul refers to here is the hierarchy of angelic powers (principalities and powers) which had been given authority over different areas of creation and society and have rebelled and started using their power against all that God stands for. This is very much like us, who were made in God’s image and given authority to rule and be caretakers of creation. Thus, what we say and do has impact on all of creation and on society as we were given authority over it. When we pray “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” we are submitting our authority to God’s authority.
However, we are all free agents and can chose to go against God’s will (as we so often do) and carry out our own will or even demonic will (influenced by the principalities and powers). There are destructive forces at work around the world which seek to corrupt it and move us all away from God. (1 John 5:19) – this is the bad news! In our recent Consultation on anti-human trafficking we recognised that we have all been trafficked (tricked, seduced and lied to) into the kingdom of darkness. We don’t like to consider the reality of this teaching in our modern day world. Ephesians 2:1ff states the shocking bad news that we are dead in our transgressions and sins when we followed the ways of the world….
The Good News is astoundingly freeing and life giving:
1 John 2:2 – He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but for the sins of the whole world.
2 Peter 3:9 - … not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
God loves the whole world, each and every person in it and wants all to come to a saving knowledge of him. Yet as much as he longs for that and continually reveals himself to the world, he does not coerce us into choosing him, nor does he force us to follow him obediently. We have to make that choice ourselves. We can yield to his will or suppress it. Amazingly he will give us the power to resist evil and the grace to yield; but we need to submit.
The Good News is that as we yield God rescues us out of darkness and moves us into a new Kingdom – we have been relocated!! This new Kingdom is one of freedom, grace, forgiveness, confidence, life, equality; one of liberation and restoration; one of hope and joy; one of peace and reconciliation.
When I was in Northern Iraq I thought I was almost where the geographical location of he Garden of Eden was described, but the actual location of the New Kingdom is actually in Christ. As you read Scripture you will see the repetition of “in Christ” as where we are positioned. This means that our lifestyle and behaviours should reflect Christ as we are in Him. It means that the evidence of the Kingdom should be seen in every aspect of our lives. (Philippians 1:27ff)
What does this mean when we see our world struggling through all sorts of conflicts and sufferings? We are called to manifest the amazing Good News of the new Kingdom in the midst of the not yet so that people will see and hunger for this new citizenship. We reflect Christ so that they may taste and feel the love of God through our lives engaging with them. To really impact the crisis situations in the world we need an integrated response so as to reflect the Kingdom at every level and in every aspect.
Lord, we long for true Shalom to be seen, felt and lived in our world – we pray that you will enable us to be more united and to individually and corporately reflect the Good News to all around us. As we pray through this prayer focus, we call on you to set people free from the conflicts in their land, to restore peace and to heal disease.