Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

Matt Rogers 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. Matt’s local newspaper is The Roanoke Times. Here is Matt Rogers on the Good News. His entry is entitled: Fixing a Failed State.

THE GOOD NEWS

Something about the “Good News” used to bother me. I’d hear at Easter that Jesus had shown us through his resurrection that he had defeated death and evil on the cross. But I work at Virginia Tech, where we just passed the second anniversary of the massacre there. My fellow Hokies and I can tell you: Death and Evil are still very much alive.

And then there is the matter of my “neighbors.” I live adjacent to a cemetery. The stones dotting the ground there remind me constantly that death is real and present, despite what Jesus did. Sure, I can say Jesus overcame his own death, but what good is that to the families across the street from me, lowering their loved ones into the ground?

A man rising from the dead 2000 years ago was a pretty cool trick, I’ll grant you, but where are the signs that it changed anything for us today? How exactly is it good news?

I have my alarm set to NPR, and sometimes those soft voices are not enough to drag me out of sleep. For a half hour or more, I drift in and out, catching bits and pieces of the morning’s news. One day, just before Easter this year, I came up from sleep just long enough to hear the term, “failed state.” A few more awakenings later, and I’d put together that Somalia was a failed state, and that the newly elected leader had a tough challenge ahead, trying to restore order there.

A failed state. The term got me thinking. The Apostle Paul, in his great defense of the Resurrection, says, “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead … for he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:20, 25-26).

“For he must reign until …” Somalia is still a failed state, despite having a new leader, and just because the new leader reigns does not mean all is well. There is work to be done, for he must reign until he has restored Somalia to a healthy, thriving state.

Likewise, our world is still a failed state, despite having a good King now at the helm. Christ reigns, yes, but his order has not yet spread to all the earth. There is work to be done, for he must reign until he has restored this failed state of a planet to its original good design. Then death will be destroyed, for it is the last enemy to go.

The restoration process begins with us. Each of us is, individually, a failed state. We’ve tried leading ourselves, running our lives, and we’ve failed. We need a new leader, a good King, who can come and reign until all the enemies-the evil and death-within us are destroyed. Then we become agents of this good King, ambassadors of the world’s new Leader, sent to spread this good news to all the earth: Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Matt Rogers is co-pastor of New Life Christian Fellowship [nlcf] at Virginia Tech. He is the author of When Answers Aren’t Enough: Experiencing God as Good When Life Isn’t (Zondervan, 2008) and Losing God: Clinging to Faith Through Doubt and Depression (InterVarsity, 2008). Learn more about his writings and his blog at his website.


5 Responses to Matt Rogers on The Good News

  1. JR Woodward says:

    Matt,

    I appreciate you tackling an important question in regard to how the good news of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection makes a difference when evidence of a “failed state” is so pervasive. It’s a good and timely word. Thanks for your contribution to this series. Peace.

  2. Dustin says:

    Matt, I imagine waking up to NPR each morning creates plenty of opportunities to hope for something better. I appreciate the reminder that we are to be ambassadors for Christ, our Leader.

  3. Matt says:

    Matt,

    Nicely done. That’s a very clear image.

    It occurs to me, too, that your depiction of the alarm clock, “soft voices,” and liminality of waken/not waken is another potential image of our current state. Sometimes the soft voice of God seems like a faint feature of my present dreamlike state; at other times it pierces through and wakes me, almost fully, to the reality of the kingdom. Mostly I drift back and forth from one to the other.

  4. Sonja says:

    Matt,
    We only have to watch the news or read the newspaper or to look around and know
    that ‘death and evil are still alive’. Every person and family has their own cross to bear and the questions you share are so real.’Where are the signs that it changed anything for us today?What kind of signs you think we are supposed to look for anyway if it includes change?

    In your example of ‘the alarm on NPR’ where you say ‘and sometimes those soft voices are not enough to drag me out of sleep’
    What was needed to drag you out?

    Are you saying at your last paragraph that we can only become agents and ambassadors if the evil and the death within us are completely destroyed?

  5. Matt says:

    Hey all. Thanks for your comments. It’s good interacting with you.

    JR, thanks for giving me a chance to share.

    Dustin, I constantly question my choice of NPR for a wake-up call, but I never change it.

    Matt, I love it. And I think you’re right on. We all need to be wakened. I chose that analogy for the preface to “When Answers Aren’t Enough.” Check it out if you get a chance. There’s a print and a Kindle version available on Amazon.

    Sonja, good catch. My last paragraph is a wonderful example of poor grammar. No, I did not mean to imply that all death and evil within us is destroyed before we become agents. We become agents the moment we submit to Christ’s kingship. Then, just as with the world around us, the new leader of our lives gets to work (with our cooperation, of course), setting things right within us.

    Thanks everyone. I appreciate you reading my entry.

    matt

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