Good News People

“Today, the term evangelical is a loaded word in American culture, packed with a variety of contradictory meanings. The emotions it evokes in one person can be the polar opposite of how it affects someone else. What evangelical is supposed to mean—bringer of good news—is completely different from what it has come to mean for many in our society: judgmental, misogynist, bigoted, homophobic. How did this happen? How did the “good news” people come to be widely regarded as bad news?”

~Lance Ford,  Revangelical: Becoming the Good News People We’re Meant to Be. Tyndale Momentum

This Sunday we’ll be reading a very famous passage from Romans as we continue our study of that book. We’ll be reading ch 10:14-21.

Paul, still sorting through the dilemma of Israel’s rejection of her Messiah, puts forth a stair-step argument for how people actually receive Jesus as Messiah. His argument is in the form of questions again, and he starts with the desired goal of salvation (based on v13) and works backwards through the process. Before they can embrace God’s salvation, they have to believe. But in order to believe, they have to hear the offer. In order to hear, someone has to tell them the news, and so on.

There is no way around the usage here – the gospel has a message to be shared. The Good News is news. You might find the origins of the word we translate as “gospel” of interest – there is a famous inscription that reveals it’s usage outside of the church. If you read the translation, take note of how Augustus is described, and compare it to the first Christian description of Jesus.

Paul makes an assumption about who was sent to share that news. What does this tell us about our purpose as the church? He quotes Isaiah 52 which forecasts the day when Israel’s exile is over – and how beautiful even the feet of those will be who bring that good news. This clearly indicates to us, as the church, that we have some very good news to share with the people we are placed among. What is the good news, in your understanding? What does v17 indicate that the Good News is about? How can we see to it that we keep the main thing the main thing?

Hopefully this study will get us thinking and pointed in the right direction for how we, as a community of the Gospel, can bring light to the world in which we’ve been placed. I’m really excited about Sunday’s study.

 

Free to be Free

Image result for shawshank redemption

Ever see a movie that shows a long time prisoner being released back into society?   There were a few.  The Shawshank Redemption comes to mind.  Ole Morgan Freeman really shows the inner struggle one might face when suddenly living in a new freedom.  If you haven’t seen the film, put it on your movie bucket list.  In this study, Paul will be writing and speaking directly to the Jewish Christian in Rome and addressing this very issue.

We’ll be reading Romans 7:1-6. Paul is continuing a section where he has described this new life in Christ.  We have been given a new freedom.  But now that we have been freed, how do we proceed?  How will we live in this new life?  And what about the past?  How do we fit the past into the now?  These are huge questions for the emerging church in Rome and they are huge to us as well.

Paul masterfully uses the analogy of marriage to cover many of the aspects of this transition. In v 1-2 particular importance is placed in the fact that death ends a marriage.  How does that make us feel?  Knowing the death he is alluding to is Christ’s death, atoning for our sins, how does that make us feel?  How we feel is part of Paul’s point.  The direction of thought is being realigned from legal to relational.

In v2-3 Paul continues the marriage analogy with yet another uncomfortable relational situation.  Remarriage after the death of a spouse, while perfectly legal, is for all parties involved, complicated.  In v-3, adultery is mentioned.  How do we see adultery fitting into the following verse that states our new union with Christ is to prove fruitful to God?

Paul is attempting to unite a divided Roman Church.  The divisions present two thousand years ago are still manifest in our walk today.   Given our new found freedom, how will we live free?  How should the past shape our future?  On what side of Christ’s death will we live?  These are all questions the Roman Christians were facing and I believe we all struggle with today.  It should be an interesting study.

Hope to see you there.