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Andy Stanley - Be the News



Now, a couple of weeks ago, I finished a book written by an ex-pastor who's become an atheist. And in the book, he tells a story and I don't know why I'm so fascinated with deconversion stories, but he tells this whole story. It's a long book, it's wonderful. He's so transparent, and then he goes into why doesn't believe the Bible's true it doesn't believe God exists and you know, it's fascinating. It's both philosophical and his story, but in the part where he tells his story, he had the dilemma of how do you, he was in ministry slowly losing his faith, and he was still in ministry when he lost his faith.

And so he tells that journey and it's heartbreaking as you might imagine. But he tells the story about how he told his family so he told his wife, they eventually got divorced. She wanted to be married to a pastor. In fact, she remarried another pastor. He remarried later, but the most sort of gut wrenching like I had to just stop, you know, part was when he told his mom, so he tells his mom that he's deconverting from Christianity. And she's not this doesn't bother her the way that he thought it would. And very soon after he told her that he had deconverted from Christianity, she deconverted as well. And she expresses, he explains in the book, she expresses her relief of giving up this faith and all the baggage that came with her version of Christianity and at one point, she says and this is a quote she says, "It's wonderful because I don't have to hate anymore. It's wonderful to be free of this religious burden because I don't have to hate anyone anymore".

So I was talking about this with my son Andrew, he's 27 and he does full time stand up comedy. We did not see that coming, okay. That expensive finance degree I'm sure it'll come in handy someday, but anyway. So he has this new collection of friends around our city and now more and more around the whole country as he travels of stand up comedians that are doing clubs and late night things and so he's got this new group of friends. So I'm telling him about this book, and what this gentleman's mom said. And he said, Dad he said, "Most of my comedy friends, my comedian friends, most of them grew up going to some kind of church and they've all walked away pretty much from church". And then he said this, and he allowed me to quote him, he said, "Dad, if I grown up in one of those kinds of churches, I don't think I would still be going to church either".

So what is this? A version of faith, where you have to dislike a group of people in order to kind of keep your walls up, a version of faith where you basically have to hate a group, a version of faith that you're constantly looking for a way out, that you just can't wait to get out of this thing and kind of shake yourself free and move on. I mean, neither of those versions of faith are good news, right, that's not good news. That's bad news, that's old news.

Now, as we've said, throughout this series, you know, for some folks, the resistance to Christianity revolves around this question, is it true, but for other people, and more and more people, the question they're wrestling with is a different question it's this question, is it even good? I mean, if it causes me to hate it may be true, but it's not good to hate if it causes me to feel like I can't live my life and be myself, then clearly it's not good.

Now, when we hear news, this is true for all of us, when we hear news that's not good, we hope it's not true, right? Whether it's a medical diagnosis or something with your job when your news is not good, you hope it's not true. But when you hear news, that's good, good news, you hope it's true no matter what it is whether it has to do with your health, your finances, your job, somebody you're dating, your marriage, when you hear news, that is good, something you read a headline when you hear news, that's good, you immediately hope it's true.

So the question that we've been wrestling with it we're going to kind of land on today is if the message of Jesus is good, then why don't people lean in and hope it's true? And why is it there are versions of our faith that are so ungood that people are looking for ways to get out? Because when Jesus' birth was announced, it's so interesting, it could have been announced in lots of different ways with lots of different words. But here's the initial announcement, here's the headline, here's the breaking news, good news. This is the terminology used, this was the phrase good news of great joy that is when you understand this it's going to light something up on the inside of you.

And it's not just for the people in that city, not just for people in that part of the world. This was the shocker. I mean, no one could even imagine news that would be good for all people. Because generally good news for one group of people is bad news for another group of people. In fact, the good news as we said it was so good that they actually just titled the whole thing the Gospel, which means the good story. I mean, this is why come with anything else? Let's just call it name and what it is. This is a good story. But again, if it's that good, supposedly, why the resistance? Why would anybody be looking for an out? Why wouldn't people who don't believe it's true, wish it was true? Why wouldn't the resistance to Christianity be this?

Wow it's hard to believe I'm not sure I can believe all that, but imagine, imagine, imagine if that were true. Because when you hear good news, you want it to be true, you don't resist it, you hope it's true. And the original version, the original version was so good that it was compelling. And the original version was so compelling, it was worth telling. And as we said, in week one, it was so worth telling that no one had to pay anybody to tell it, that Luke tells us that many people, this is and there's no parallel and in ancient history, that many people endeavored to document the life and the teaching of Jesus, not because they were paid to do so, but because they knew the story needed to be preserved. and it needed to be told, it was for every generation and it was for every nation.

So the question that I want us to wrestle with a little bit today is this, what happened? Specifically, what happened to the good news? Why isn't everybody leaning in? Why doesn't everybody want it to be true? And maybe and I'm not pointing my finger, maybe I'm pointing my finger. Maybe what happened is we happened. Maybe it's a little bit our fault. Because the church has certainly Americanized the good news. I don't know how we could have helped it, right. We certainly politicized the good news. We've and I don't think this is a word we've prosperatized the good news. We have anti-intellectualized the good news. And we've internalized the good news. And by internalized, I mean, we've reduced it to something that you just believe rather than what you do, we've reduced it to some cases, fire insurance.

I mean, I'll just be honest, when I prayed a prayer as a six year old to become a Christian, it wasn't because I love God. It wasn't because I wanted to follow Jesus, the way it was presented to me is I was trying to avoid experience in the life after this life. That's why I became a Christian. It was a lot of fear. It was a lot about what it was gonna do for me. But when you read the Gospel, the good news, when you read the accounts of the life of Jesus. It's not primarily about what happens after you die. And it's not primarily about what you believe. It's about how you live your life. And it's about how we treat other people. And when it gets reduced to what's in it for me, in spite of how it might affect you, that's not good news, of great joy for all nations, for all people, and that's not the original news.

That's the pick and choose news. That's when you pick and choose the parts that suits you. That I pick and choose the parts that suit me and my family. I pick it, choose the part that I think are going to benefit me. But the moment we do that, the moment I do that, the moment I preach like that, and that moment, it is no longer good news of great joy for all nations and all people. I'll give you an extreme example. And I acknowledge up front this is extreme. I never heard of this until about a month ago.

Have you ever heard of the Slave Bible? There are only three in existence. And I actually saw one at the Museum of the Bible and that I don't even own it, it's on loan from another museum. The Slave Bible was actually a Bible that was published. This isn't like a one off. This was a published Bible in 1807. It was published by the Society for the conversion of slaves in the British West Indies. So in London, there was an actual publisher that published the Slave Bible, and it was used to teach slaves how to read and it was used to teach slaves the message of Christianity to convert them to Christianity, but they removed any part of the Bible that undermined the legitimacy of slavery.

So they took the whole Exodus story. In fact, they took out most of the story of the Hebrew people, you know, migrating to the promised land and throwing off captivity. They took out so many verses that the Bible goes from about 1100 chapters to maybe 300 chapters in the Slave Bible. They took this verse out, the apostle Paul writes: There's neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus, because the Slave Bible was good news for slave owners, and it was bad news for slaves.

The point being this, if my version and I'm not above this, I could be as guilty as anybody else. If my version of the good news and if your version of the good news is not good for Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free, male and female, rich and poor, righteous and unrighteous saints and sinners, your sister-in-law, your crazy uncle, that skeptical cousin, that part of the family that's coming for Christmas, and you're already wondering how long are they actually going to stay? That annoying neighbor, your ex-husband or your ex-wife? If it's not good news for them, then it's not the original news. It's not the original version.

Paul, the apostle Paul in the story is so interesting, we're going to get to a piece of it just a minute. The apostle Paul again, this is an actual person who lives in actual history, who was right at the epicenter of the transition from the law and the prophets to the good news of the kingdom of God. There was this huge transition. He was a Pharisee he he knew the old way of backwards and forwards and he becomes a Jesus follower. But here's what he's saying in this verse. He's saying, "You have never met anyone. You have never met anyone for whom the good news was not good news".

The question is, what about me? Am I good news? The question is, unfortunately, about you if you're a Jesus follower, are you good news of great joy for all people, or just the people like you, that you like. Because I have a feeling, and you're smart enough to know this is the case, that if we had gotten this right, our communities, maybe our nation, maybe the world would be in a different and pardon my grammar, gooder, better place. Remember what Jesus said. I mean, I know I read this verse to you so many times you think "Andy, do you just read the same verses over and over"? No. It was so fundamental, it was so at the epicenter of this transition of what God through Christ was introducing to the world, the kingdom of God and the kingdom values.

Do you remember, I know you do, do you remember what he says was to characterize his followers? Was it correct belief? No, he said: By this all men and women and everyone in the world will know that you're following me by the way that you treat, by the way that you love one another. And the way that you treat and the way that you love other people, that's good news. And every single generation, every generation of Jesus followers, every generation of Jesus followers is responsible to ensure that our news is the original news that our news is the good news.

Again, Jesus could not have been clearer. How do we miss this? I have a feeling I know how we missed it. But I'll ask the question anyway. How can we miss this Jesus couldn't have been clearer, one day he's preaching and he says to the people who are gathered to follow him, he says, you and you is you and you and you and me, and it's all of us. He says, "You let me tell you who you are. If you're gonna follow me, you are light of the whole world, not just Judea, not just Sumeria, not just, you know, Galilee, you are the light of the world", that group, they're gathered with him that day. I mean, their world wasn't bigger than 25 miles in any direction. That was their whole world.

He says, "You're the light of the whole world and everything we came to the light of the whole world". I mean, we're not going anywhere. He says, none of this is even just about you. I want everyone who chooses to follow me to understand you are the light of the whole world. This message is for the whole world. And when it's understood properly, it will be perceived as light. Like the lights came on, like suddenly, I see myself in a way that's different than the way I've seen myself before. And I see you in a way that's different than the way I've seen you before. I see my enemies different. I see my responsibilities different. I see everything different.

You're the light of the world: Let your light shine before others that they may see something that they may see your good deeds that come from this good news. And as a result of what you do, not what you just what you believe that they may see your good deeds and look up and recognize that there is a connection between your good deeds and your good father in Heaven, because your light may be the only light they ever get, your light might be the only thing that magnifies, that's what it means to glorify, that magnifies who God really is. In other words, my responsibility and your responsibility is to personify the good news.

Now, back to the Apostle Paul, initially when he heard about the good news, he did not think it was good news, primarily because he didn't understand the news. He got a version of the news and he was a Pharisee and his future and his finances and his popularity and everything about him was tied to the old ways. And here's something you'll understand, people who benefit most people who benefit most from the old view, people who benefit most from the status quo, they are least inclined to ever let it go. And this is true.

So the Apostle Paul, everything about him is bound up in the old way. And then so he goes and gets himself deputized, and he's a violent man, he's an activist. He's a violent activist. And he decides to single handedly if need be, put this good news thing, this Nazarene sect, that's what they call it, because Jesus was from Nazareth, this Nazarene sect this thing called The Way, he's gonna put it out of the way, he's gonna put it out of business. And then he runs headlong into the buzzsaw of the grace and the mercy of a god he didn't even know.

And when that happens when he understands what the real news is, if this is amazing, this is the untold part of his story. He lays down all of his violent, coercive, fear driven ways, and he continues to be an activist. And he continues to be an apostle, and he continues to be a missionary. But now he's got a different message. And he says in one of his letters, he says the only thing that really matters, the only thing that really matters, this is amazing. The only thing that really matters is faith working its way out through love. It's like, wait, wait, you're the guy that arrested people had people tortured, he would say, I didn't understand the news. I didn't understand how good it was. I didn't understand that it was for all nations for all generations. And he gave his life to clarify for Gentile people just how good this good news really was. And he became a better man.

So he writes these letters and I want to read a portion from his letter to the church in Philippi in Greece. And I've read this before, if you grew up in church, you've heard this before, but I just as I read the verses I thought about just reading them without commenting. But I'm not able to do that I tried. But I just want you to think for a moment. What if this characterized every single Christian in our community? What if this characterized every Christian in the world? What if this characterized every Christian father? What if this had characterized your father, every Christian mother, every Christian high school student, every Christian college student, what if this was the way we live? What if our lives characterized and personified the good news?

And that's what the Apostle Paul teaches over and over and over and over, he takes Jesus' message of you're the light of the world, and he teases it out in ways that we can understand. And here's what he writes to the first century Christians in Philippi, here's what he writes to me. Here's what he writes to you. He says: Therefore, if you have any encouragement, from being united with Christ, now that you're in Christ, now that you're in this brand new covenant with this brand new understanding now that you've entered this new kingdom that's forever if there's anything encouraging about that, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing among those of you in the community of these little Ecclesiastes, these little churches, in the spirit have any tenderness and compassion.

In other words, if there's anything about following Jesus, that's come your way that's good. If you benefited from the good news from following Jesus. He says: Then look, do me a favor. I want you to make my joy complete. By being like minded having the same love being one in spirit and one in mind. He says: When people look at your little Ecclesia your little community, your little church in those little those provinces or Roman provinces, he said, I want people to see something unique about the way you treat each other, allow the good that has come your way to overflow into your relationships. This isn't simply about something you believe this is simply something you believe about a new kingdom and a new way of viewing God. This is something you do.

So Paul, tell us what exactly do you have in mind. I mean, that's kind of flowery language, he goes, alright, I'm gonna get really specific. Okay, we ready and we're like, ready, he says, you're gonna be sorry you asked now we really want to know we want to get this right. How do we live lives that are so good that people think the Gospel is good? He says: Okay, here we go, number one, do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Wow, that'd be good, wouldn't it? Wouldn't you like to work for somebody like that? If you're hiring people wouldn't you like to hire people like that. Don't you wish your father had been that way? Aren't you glad your father is that way?

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, rather, he says in humility, value others above yourself, value them above yourself not because they're more valuable. You treat them as if they are more valuable. Why would we do that? He says: I'm so glad you asked. Because that's right at the center. That's this point of the Spear of the Gospel. Because For God so loved the world, for God so valued you. He put you ahead of himself that he said his son to die for your sin, you are not more valuable than God, but he treated you as if you had greater value. He says, now, that's the good news. That's the good message. I want you to live your lives in such a way that you do for others what God in Christ has done for you. That's good, and when people see that, they're going to say, that's good.

I don't know what they believe. I don't know if I could really buy into everything they believe about the person of Jesus. But I'll tell you what, what if that were true, what is that characterized the behavior of the people around me, my boss, my friends, my teachers, my coaches, the people I work with, he goes on, he says, not looking to your own interest. But each of you look to the interest of others, why? Because that's what Christ did for you. The essence of the Gospel is that God put you first not because again, you should come first or I should come first. He chose to put you first he said, "Now you're going to follow me".

This is how I want you to treat people, all people, the people that you think deserve it and even more importantly, the people that you're sure don't it's what Jesus followers, not believe, we got that down, it's what we do. And then this statement, I mean, I don't know how we missed this, I mean this isn't tucked away somewhere, it's front and center. He says in, this is so powerful, in your relationships with one another in your relationships with one another which relationships? All of your relationships in your relationships with one another your husband relationship your wife relationship, your fiance, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, the guy at work, the woman at work, the person you love, the person you don't like to see him come, into person you hate to have one on ones with in your relationships with one another. Ready?

Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Why, because it's good because when you have the same mindset as Christ Jesus in your relationships you will defer to them. You will do what's best for them, you will put them first you will place yourself under their burden instead of requiring them to place themselves under you, you will not power up, you will step down. And that's unusual, and it's not the way the world works. But it represents the value system of the kingdom of God that was introduced when a baby was born and proclaimed King and the earth shook. And King Herod was afraid of a baby, and little did he know, little did he know he would become a footnote in the story of the birth of the Savior of the world. That's good news, he goes on, he says who talking about Jesus, this is amazing, this is the most amazing part.

Now, again, don't hear me reading the Bible for a minute. Hear me reading a letter from the first in the first century, written by someone who knew Peter, who knew James, the brother of Jesus, who knew John who had been to Jerusalem and met with the people who had spent time with Jesus. And here's what Paul says, talking about Jesus: Who being in very nature God. Peter, tell me when you think of your Rabbi Jesus, how do you describe him? Peter would say: It was like, it was like he was God in a body. I don't know, it doesn't make any sense. It's like we were with God. We realized his words were the words of God.

James, explain your brother: It's hard to explain my brother growing up, he was different, okay. In fact, he was so different than when he began being a rabbi. I thought, you're not a rabbi. And then after the resurrection, I realized no wonder. It was like God had come to us. It's like he had come to introduce something new in the world.

Listen to this one with in mind: Who being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage? What? Yeah, that God showed up among mere mortals and never powered up, never played the god card, never used his power and influence for his own benefit. Do you know what he did?

Now listen to this, this would change your office, this would change your community. This would change our country. This would change the world. In fact, it changed the world one time. He leveraged his power and his influence for the benefit of those with less power and less influence. He leveraged his power and influence as God for the benefit of those who had less power and less influence. There are communities in our country and there are nations around the world that that one simple idea would liberate so many people would free so many people would increase the lifespan and the lifetime and the quality of life for millions and millions and millions of people.

If there would be world leaders who would embrace this one single idea that is at the center of our Gospel message, it wouldn't bring so much good you wouldn't even be able to measure it. Is the message of Jesus good? Are you kidding? That God came to earth and leveraged his power and his influence for the sake of those who had no power and no influence? There is nothing better than that. That's the father you hope raised you. It's the father you want to become. It's the mother that you're so grateful for. It's the mother that you look back and you think if only she had understood this one idea, it would have changed everything for our family that would be good for the whole world. He's not done.

Rather, instead of powering up, he chose to make himself nothing. He chose to make himself in the first century a nobody. And how far did he take it? This is unprecedented. It is still unprecedented. It's why it changed the world. It's why the world's sat up and paid attention to this amazing story that no one would have made up. There was no parallel. There was no framework for this kind of story: By taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness, and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself. He chose to place himself under he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, and here's the part for us is nothing but art, because we'll never see one and we'll never smell one.

Even death on a cross the moment that your God and my God was most glorified, would have been the moment we would have been most horrified, we would have looked away. You know what the goal of crucifixion was? The goal of crucifixion was oblivion. The goal of crucifixion was it's as if you never existed, it was so horrible that your friends would never claimed to have known you and your family would have already disowned you and no one would know where you were buried. It was as if you had never existed.

And this is the end your Savior chose to make sure he punctuated his point. I have come to serve and to give my life a ransom for many. I have come to leverage my power and my influence for influence for those who have virtually no power and no influence. Now, I want you to follow me. And I want you to learn from me. And I want you to figure out in your own world with your own family and your own finances and your own opportunities, how to emulate that, because that is good. And that is good for the whole world that is good for everybody in the whole world.

Is Christianity good? Are you kidding? Is there anything better than that? He was the king who came to reverse the order of everything. And he invites us to follow. Imagine if the kings of this earth if the politicians of this earth, if the global leadership of this earth embraced that one single idea how much good would be released on planet Earth? Yes, it's good. Skipping down to verse 12. Paul says, Okay, look, you got a part to play in this.

So guys, he says: Men and women, I want you to continue to work out. I love this idea, I want you to continue to allow God to squeeze out of you everything associated with your salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who works in you look at this to will and to act in order to fulfill his, there's our word, good purpose. And what is this good purpose for the world to know that there's a God who has invited the world to call him father, and that he sent his son to do the ultimate and pay the ultimate price and invites us to follow him to set up a brand new world order, not a world order as we've ever seen before a kingdom of conscience, a kingdom where the heart rules and the heart is in sync with the heart of God.

That's the invitation is that good, that changes everything. Because it changes humanity from the inside out. And when we do that, good things happen around us. The perversion of the Gospel says this, "No, good things happen to us". The apostle Paul would say, "No good things happen around us". And when we embrace that perversion, it becomes about us. And we are no longer good news. He wraps up with this he says: Look, do everything without grumbling or arguing, talking about Christians and Christians so that you may become blameless.

Do you know what it means to be blameless? It means nobody can blame you for anything. It doesn't mean you're perfect. You know what a blameless person does? A blameless person messes up and then a blameless person immediately apologizes before somebody can blame them. They've already taken care of it. I'm going to go in there and talk to her Oh, she already owned it and took care of it. I'm going to go in there and blame them. No, he already apologized. Blameless means I'm not carrying any blame? Yes, I'm gonna goof up. Yes, I'm gonna do some not good things, but then I'm gonna own it. I'm gonna own it so quickly, you don't have an opportunity to blame me, you're not gonna catch me. I'm gonna find you and confess it. That's good, blameless and pure.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure get this children of God like father, like son without fault in a warped what's in it for me and crooked generation. And then this is so great. Then now the Apostle Paul reaches back and grabs the very terms that Jesus used in the Sermon on the Mount. He said, when you live this way, when you lean into not only this good news, but this good way of living because of your good Savior, he says when you do this, and especially when you do it as a congregation, especially when you do it as a group of people in a city or community or town or a nation.

He said the results of that are going to be exactly what Jesus said. You're gonna shine in the world, like stars in the sky, your selflessness will stand in sharp contrast to the selfishness characterized in the kingdoms of this world. Imagine a world like that. This is what we've been invited to. This is how you change the world, regardless of how the world pushes back, because everyone intuitively knows that's good. So I want to be very specific. How does good news behave? What happens when we personify good news, what positions us to be not just believe, but be good news?

So I want to give you four quick suggestions. I've already touched on all four of them, because they come right out of this text, four suggestions for the Christmas season, because during this this Christmas season, he's coming, isn't he? You know who he is, or she is? You invite them every year, but they don't come and you give yourself credit for inviting, but they don't come and you're so glad they didn't come but you got credit for coming. And this year they're coming. It's like, "Oh, she said, yes". Not only they're coming, you don't know how long they're going to stay. They're gonna stay too long right?

And some of you are like me, you've got several days during this season this next week or so. You've got several days that are you days there just for you. And somebody is going to stay into one of your you days. So four suggestions, to be the light of the world, and your little part in my little part of the world number one, apologize immediately. Apologize immediately, we're not always good news are we? I'm not, apologize immediately. Let's just own it and own it quickly.

Now, can I say something to the guys real quick, and again, I've been a man a lot longer than I've been a pastor. So I understand this guys, come on, ladies, maybe you too, but just men, when we screw up, you know what we do? We're just our ego. It just gets in the way and we walk around the house or the wherever we live, you know, and we justify and justify, and we talk to ourselves. We have imaginary conversations with our wives and our girlfriends and the people we've hurt, and we justify and justify, and the whole time we're doing it, we know we're wrong. Instead of apologizing quickly, we spread it out and stretch it out and ruin their afternoon or ruin their day or ruin their weekend. And then eventually we realized, okay, I gotta apologize.

Let's just not do that for the next couple of weeks. Okay, let's just apologize, immediately. Then, guess what, men you are blameless. Not because you're perfect, but there's nothing to blame. You owned it. That one shift, that one change for somebody in this room, maybe the thing that opens up a brand new level of love and respect and communication in your family or with somebody that you care about.

Number two, forgive quickly. We have to forgive quickly because we're forgiven. There is Jesus followers, we have no excuse to hang on to bitterness or anger we have zero I mean we're gonna get hurt, We're gonna have to deal with our emotions but in terms of forgiveness, forgive quickly number three I love this word. We don't use it much defer habitually. I love this word, you know what defer means? Defer means you first, defer means, no you go first.

Yeah, but Andy, you know, you're our guest. I know I'm your guest. But come on here defer. One of the richest men I've ever met, and I don't know him all that well and he lives in different city. And I've met through a friend but he's like, he's like one of those rich guys where it's like, really? How'd you do that? I mean, I feel like it's the guy that he just makes everybody else feel like a failure not because of his personality, but it's like what have I done? I mean, no matter what you've done, you meet him is like, I'm not ever done anything. Okay, why don't you met people. I've just heard of people like this.

So I traveled with him one time with some of the group and I'd heard about this but I sort of forgotten. We had actually, he'd hired a driver. And this whole couple of days, he would hold the door for the driver to the guy's limo. And it just drove the driver crazy. So I don't know what to do with this. And he's like, no, I this is what I do, I held the door for the driver, the driver's like, "No, no, see, this is a limousine company. I'm working for you". "I know I know, just go head and get in, I held the door for the driver". This is what he does. Here I am talking about it, he deferred.

What does that look like in your world? Why should we defer? Why should we put other people first come on good news of great joy for all mankind. A king was born, a king who gave his life for his subjects instead of asking the subjects to give their lives for him. And then last is give sacrificially, because for God so loved the world he gave. Let's do this. Because if everybody does this, everybody knows it's good news, whether they believe it's true or not.

The good news becomes bad news, when I'm bad news. And the good news for somebody becomes bad news, when you're bad news. When the news becomes more about what then a who, when the news becomes more about a view than a you when that happens, it is no longer good news. So, one last time and we're done. Are you good news? Am I good news? Because come on, you know this. If the good news lives inside of us, shouldn't there be something about us that's good news for our world?

Last thing, if the life and teaching of Jesus doesn't strike you as good news, it may be because the church hasn't been good news for you. And if that's your story, I just want you to know as a pastor, who don't, I don't represent anybody but me and our church, but I just want you to know I am so extraordinarily sorry. And I think that your mistrust and your disinterest and your lack of faith are all justified. And I can't change your past and I can't change what you've experienced in the past. But I'd like to leave you with this.

In the distant past, in a world where might made right where the pagan gods toyed with humanity, and favored the powerful, where the Jewish Temple only seemed to favor the religious, that God sent his son into this world, to replace both and to establish a brand new kind of relationship, a brand new kind of covenant between God and man. And on that very first Christmas, this brand new arrangement was announced this way, "Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid, I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people", who understand it and all the people to whom is proclaimed. "Today, in the town of David. A Savior has been born to you and he is the Messiah, he is Christ the Lord".

And when that baby grew to be a man, and stepped onto the pages of history as Jesus of Nazareth, he extended a simple invitation to all of you and all of us. He said, "Follow me". And it was an invitation to good people. It was an invitation to not so good people. And it was an invitation to people who weren't sure there was anything left good in the world. So is the message of Jesus true? That's a question for another day. But was the message and is the message of Jesus good? It's better than good. And it's good for you, and it's good for me. And it's good for the whole world.
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