How are you coping with the relentless changes that have confronted us in recent days? The song in the clip above (Mad World) may reflect the mindset of many in this day, and whilst we can identify with the idea that this has become a mad world, it certainly is not the final conclusion of the Church.That is, if you believe the good book.
Amidst the uncertainty and confusion experienced by many in our day is the wonderful truth that the good news of the gospel is not just good news – it is very good news!
Taking the initiative
God always takes the initiative in our lives, has never left us to our own devices, and He always is up to something. Consider Adam and Eve in the first days of paradise in the awesome garden of Eden. What a magnificent sight — perfect humanity — wanting nothing, needing nothing, having dominion over all creation and enjoying a daily relationship with God. As you look at the story and consider if it had stopped there, life would have been so perfect, but the story was never ever going to stop there because God already had intended something significantly bigger. Before the creation of the heavens and the earth, before the divine utterance, “Light.”, and before we had done good or bad, God chose us. (Ephesians 1:4)
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven
We were loved intimately by God and called to be holy and without fault in his eyes – all by the intervention of Christ’s death on the Cross, and the reconciliation that followed. God did everything for and in us, so much so that we are now not just merely wrecks that have been fixed or patched up, but we are entirely new creations. We are not what we were or who we were. As Henry Lytes hymn in 1834 says,
“Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven;
To His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who like thee His praise should sing
Praise Him ! Praise Him!
Praise the everlasting King. “
We can’t overlook the wealth of the worship evoked by the refrain, “Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven” and yet there is even more that can be said such as reconciled, renewed and having a righteousness that is not only given us but also imputed to us – the very righteousness of Christ. Gone is the guilt and the shame. The work of the Cross is a deep and thorough work.
Sharing the gospel in a mad world …
But in this ‘mad world’ where does this leave us when it comes to our sharing the gospel?
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.
The gospel is not about getting us to heaven, even though that is remarkably good news. No, the good news is God has stepped in to this world of pain, heartache and suffering and that things can and will be different. In our prayers, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is the assertion that things can be different now, today. The astonishingly good news is actually extravagantly fantastic news!
We live in what could be termed a ‘mad world’, but the Church can make sense of what is happening; bringing love and faith in the place of fear by sharing the message of God’s love, providence and sovereignty. It has been said in the past that “where there is no vision, the people perish” and part of our gospel is to assure those we love and influence, that God loves us, has a plan for us and that he has a very soft spot for anyone that will respond to His love, compassion and forgiveness.
Opportunities abound for the church. Let’s refrain from telling the Church “to wake up”, when the Church has for so long, been eagerly trying to reach the lost and impact society at the deepest levels possible, without telling them how they can do it. It sounds a good message, but misses the mark somewhat without asking, what needs to be done, and what is our part in it? The gospel at every level answers that, even in the impenetrable clouds of a mad world.
The truth is, we are here to make a difference, to change and transform things as God enables us. This can be seen quite powerfully in the story of Jonah where as he sleeps, the captain of the ship urges Jonah to wake up and call on his god. The insinuation is clear, “Wake up, call on your God and do the things that can help us!” The nations of our mad world are waiting for us to do just that, to do ‘God things’ that will turn the tide socially, economically and culturally.
Our greatest call as the People of God is a majestic one; to make disciples (rather than just followers) of all nations or people groups by pursuing that wonderful challenge to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” Jesus wasn’t teasing us when he issued that commission — we really can do it, but it takes intentional and deliberate faith and obedience — and the way that we do that is by encouraging each other daily to keep looking, seeing and reaching into the hearts and lives of those we come in contact with.
It’s a mad world, but by God’s help we can make sense, change and transform it.
Here comes the Church