Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

Brother Maynard on The Good News

Illustration by Nidhi Balwada from India

Illustration by Nidhi Balwada from India

This entry is a part of an on-going blog series called The Good News, which is taking place throughout the Easter Season, from Easter to Pentecost. A full list of the contributors can be found here. Brother Maynard’s local city newspaper is the Winnipeg Free Press.

Brother Maynard first has a disclaimer that he wants to share prior to his entry. Disclaimer: I’m honoured to participate in this series with so many distinguished bloggers and otherwise intelligent people. With that in mind, I wrote my contribution without reading any of the posts in the series that precede it. I wanted to get it out of the way before reading what so many astute thinkers would write so I wouldn’t feel the pressure to come up with anything so profound. This way as I follow the series, I’ll only have to say, “Gee, I wish I’d written that…” With that disclaimer, here is Bro M. on the Good News.

It’s always a difficult thing to distill a complex question down to a simple answer, and a question like “What is the ‘Good News’?” is as difficult as any when it’s placed into a spiritual context. I believe, however, that there’s a very simple answer, but the explanation of these simple facts is where a lot of things have gone awry in the past, and have given certain religions — namely, Christianity — a bad reputation. And to be fair, it’s a reputation that’s been well-earned.

The “Good News” is simply this: there is a God, and he cares about you. That’s it, in a nutshell. Of course, there are follow-on implications of these simple facts, and that’s where the matter gets complicated. But how do we unpack these implications without making the explanation sound condescending, judgmental, or frankly, like someone switched the labels with the “Bad News” cannister.

Why is this so? Perhaps because the “Good News” always seems to feature Hell as a — or the — major tenet to be grasped. The “Good News” is that you don’t have to go to Hell. To be sure, this is good news to those who thought they might be so destined, but really, how many of us actually think this? Most of us expect that we’re good enough to garner entrance to Heaven, even if we know we overestimate our goodness. After all, we may have our faults, but we’re not that bad. The traditional “Good News” counterpoint to this reasoning? We’re all bad enough to go to Hell.

This version of the Good News played well for several generations past as our country imagined itself as a “Christian” nation. As this perception slips away, the Good News actually changes. No, the essential facts of orthodox Christianity haven’t changed, but there’s a genuine “re-imagining” of these tenets that changes the way they are to be viewed and presented.

If we revisit the Good News as it’s been presented for the past few generations, we have four basic steps (or “laws,” depending which tract you read): (1) God is love, and loves you; (2) you sinned and deserve to die; (3) Jesus Christ died instead of you; and (4) if you accept Jesus, his death becomes a substitution for yours. The detailed explanation of all but the first law seems inevitably to sound like a “Good News/Bad News” setup. Which do you want first?

Fortunately, the lead point hasn’t got a Bad News corollary. God cares about you. That’s it, that’s the Good News in its simplest form. Sure, there are follow-on points that flesh out the background that magnifies just how good this news is by explaining the extent of the downside of its absence. But the Good News is that God cares, and this fact alone can somehow lead to a relationship with him that ushers you into his presence in the afterlife. And that’s a version of the Good News that bears closer investigation.

Brother Maynard is an emerging/missional church blogger who is often surprised at how many people continue to read what he writes. When he isn’t writing under a pseudonym, the man behind the mask is a freelance writer and consultant in the realms of business, technology and the Internet. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Winnipeg, Canada, where the major local paper, the Winnipeg Free Press has inexplicably not actually asked him to render his opinion on the matter at hand.

5 Responses to Brother Maynard on The Good News

  1. jrwoodward says:

    Brother Maynard,

    Thanks for reminding us of the truth that God cares for each of us and how his care is an invitation to connect with him. As the person who asked people to share the good news with limited words, I realize that there wasn’t space to write everything that you may have wanted to write. So in light of that, I have a few questions for you.

    How does the fact that God cares and this invitation to be in relationship with him now and forever help a person deal with the here and now? How do we know that God cares when our world is so dysfunctional? How does this news that God cares help the person who is homeless on the street? How does this good news that God cares help the person who just had a spouse that left them?

    And is this good news just personal in nature, or does it have public implications? I look forward to your response.

  2. sonja says:

    Brother Maynard,
    Such a powerful phrase and meaning ‘ God cares about you’
    What a major responsibility we have as ‘ the bride in Christ’ to carry on that flame …
    And how much we are in need of each other to stay tuned for we are simply ‘ good people’ so why the big deal of the concept of sin.
    Its hard to even get that message across isn’t it.Deception and ‘everything is gonna be okay’ or as long when you’re at ease seemed becoming part of a good message in a culture of today.sonja

  3. Good questions! Sorry my weekend has gotten a little busy, but I’ll try and offer some considered response.

    How does the fact that God cares and this invitation to be in relationship with him now and forever help a person deal with the here and now?
    In a word, hope. This helps to either make sense of the “here and now” or to understand that at least that’s not all there is… and this is one of the major factors that helps one respond to the invitation of relationship.

    How do we know that God cares when our world is so dysfunctional?
    True, our world just doesn’t seem to “work” most of the time. It’s probably trite to respond to the question of why evil exists with the question of why good exists, though there’s some truth in the observation. Given the level of dysfunction, it’s sometimes a wonder that we manage to keep going at all, and in that “minor miracle” we can choose to see evidence of God’s goodness, of the fact that he cares. We keep managing — somehow — to overcome, whether in large ways or small.

    How does this news that God cares help the person who is homeless on the street? How does this good news that God cares help the person who just had a spouse that left them?
    Here we’re back to hope, and to the promise that we really can keep going through such adversity.

    I wonder whether we push the notion of “care” too far. God cares about us and the adversity we face, and he cares that we are able to press on and not despair. But that’s not the same thing as removing the adversity. As my kids grow up, I see them struggle with many things, and my wife and I decide not to rescue them from every one of these struggles. This by no means indicates that we don’t care — on the contrary, we know that learning to deal with these trials helps them mature, becoming stronger and wiser. Because we see a bigger picture, our view of the matter is quite different from that of our kids in the midst of the difficulty. I must be cautious to say that I don’t think God causes these painful circumstances like homelessness or divorce, nor that he sets them up just to test or to teach us — even if he does use them for this purpose. It’s simply that his view of the matter is wider than ours, and we simply may not understand what the most caring thing is in a situation. It may not be the thing we want.

    Skipping past all that, we can say that God’s care for us doesn’t ensure we won’t face painful situations — just that he can sustain us through them.

  4. That’s interesting that the simple some things are, more powerfull it gets, this summarized “God cares” statement means so much we should know for not being affraid.


  5. Pingback: » Recasting the Good News™ ::: Subversive Influence

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