J.R. Briggs on The Good News
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. J.R.’s local city newspapers are The (Landsdale) Reporter and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Here is J.R. Briggs on the Good News.
THE GOOD NEWS
A few years ago someone asked me this question: “If you had to describe the good news in five words or less what would you say?” It took me days to come with an answer that satisfied. After much thought, I eventually landed on my answer:
What I love most about these words is their commonality. They share an ethos of relationship. These words are not neutral or stagnant. There is action, an implication of moving towards people.
Grammatically, they share the small yet significant prefix re-, an indication that something must be done again. And if something must be done (or redone, as the case may be) its an indication that, as John Chandler wrote, all was not well.
Regardless of our background, upbringing or experience we know something deep within us: this is not the way it is supposed to be. One can’t read a newspaper or listen to the evening news without being aware of the brokenness and pain that is in our world.
But it’s the bad news that helps make the good news good.
Many people have attempted to communicate the story of good news by beginning the story with a cross or a manger. But the story actually starts much earlier – in a garden. A garden saturated with the Hebrew word shalom. In our current vernacular, shalom is often translated ’peace’ – but its meaning is much more robust than a mere absence of violence. Shalom is the essence of everything right and good. Perfection. Complete harmony. Truth. A reality that says, “It just doesn’t get any better than this.”
The bad news is that while that shalom once existed in a garden, it was God’s very own creation – humankind – who broke from that relational harmony. From harmony to division, a severe separation between God and humanity occurred.
But the good news is, as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote, that God was in constant search of man. His desire was to redeem, to reconcile. The Story of God and humanity is a compassionate, faithful God pursuing His broken, unfaithful creation back to himself.
His solution for this broken relationship came in the form of a relationship. His closest relationship: His Son Jesus.
The Bible recounts – with vivid detail and in great length – the constant pursuit of this loving God who provided – and still provides – Jesus as the clear solution to put back together that which was broken. The good news continues when we accept and embrace the life-altering rhythms of this Restorer Jesus and join him in his agenda of seeing the world renewed.
The Bible communicates the ending, the future, hope-filled finale to the Grand Story of God. Relationship is lovingly and painstakingly restored between God and humanity. Victory over brokenness is secured. Shalom returns. God’s hopes and dreams were realized. How does this happen? How else, but in relationship. And where does all of this happen? Where else, but in a garden.
|J.R. Briggs is the founder and cultural cultivator of The Renew Community, a newly formed network of faith communities for skeptics + dreamers in Lansdale, PA in the greater Philadelphia region. He has authored three book projects and enjoys reading, skiing, hiking, playing racquetball, blogging and following the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies. He and his wife Megan have a two-year old adopted son named Carter and are in the process of adopting a second child. His local newspapers are The (Lansdale) Reporter and The Philadelphia Inquirer, but on his day off he enjoys reading The New York Times and USAToday.|