Every person on the planet is longing for something. There are things they want, hope for, pursue, need. Across the board, every single person has a nagging sense that something is wrong with the world. They spend their lives searching for what they believe to be missing. This is true for individuals, and it is also true for the cultures and subcultures that those individuals inhabit.
The word gospel literally means “good news.” We proclaim the reality of what God accomplished in Jesus Christ when he sent him to this earth and culminated his plan of redemption. The gospel is good news in the fullest possible sense of that phrase. In the name of Jesus, healing comes to every part of this world that has been broken. The good news affects everything. Just as there is no portion of this world that has not been affected by sin, so there is no portion of this world for which the gospel is not good news.
So when we speak to a college student who is struggling to establish her identity, the gospel is good news. She feels displaced, like there is some kind of strange disconnect between herself and the people around her. The gospel reaches into her situation and proclaims that in Christ, relationships are healed. The sin that separates us from God and one another has been abolished. God’s Spirit claims us, recreates us, allows us to see who we truly are and who we are meant to become.
When we speak to an environmentalist who is disgusted by the way our corporate greed and poor stewardship are affecting our planet, the gospel is good news. The environmentalist longs to see human beings living in a harmonious, mutually beneficial relationship with the world around them. Typically, the environmentalist places his hope in social action and an over-exaltation of nature, but we get the privilege of proclaiming to him that the gospel is the good news he is looking for. God created man to have dominion (gracious stewardship) over the earth (Gen. 1:26). God even placed man in the garden with the responsibility of “working and keeping” it (Gen. 2:15). Man’s relationship to the planet has been scarred by sin, and the earth itself “groans” because is “in bondage to decay” (Rom. 8:19-23). The good news is that the gospel restores man’s relationship with God, with his fellow man, and with the creation. And ultimately, God will re-create the world to be all that it was originally intended to be—and more (see Rev. 21-22).
We could walk through the burning desire of every heart and every culture and trace the ways in which the gospel is good news. Ultimately, everyone is longing for the good news of the gospel, but most people are looking in all of the wrong places.
The gospel affirms the best of every culture and points us far beyond the good things we spend our lives pursuing. And as we realize that the good news if far greater than we imagined, we also find that what we had been pursing pales in comparison.
So let us be those who proclaim the good news in every respect. Let us spend our lives treasuring the gospel and seeking out all of the ways in which it is the good news that everyone is longing for.
But let me add a caution. Don’t imagine that everyone is on the right track and only needs a nudge to help them realize the fullness of the good news. Far from it. Because not only is the gospel good news for every culture, the gospel also subverts every culture. That will be the subject of tomorrow’s post.