Wednesday – May 29, 2019

‘Good News Travels…’

If we’ve been looking for work, especially for some time, and we get a job, we want to let our friends know. If we’ve graduated from college, become engaged or become a parent, we want to pass on the good news.

So it is with what we believe. If our faith in Jesus Christ is real, we’ll want to let others know. Why is it that when people first come to understand who Jesus really is, they want to spread the news? Yet in his contribution to Reformation Anglicanism, Ben Kwashi, Anglican Archbishop of Jos, Northern Nigeria observes, ‘In much of the world today there are churches seemingly everywhere and very many Christians, yet with little positive impact on society’.

Seed. In a parable Jesus told, he likened the means of ‘spreading the word’ to ‘seed’. His analogy is helpful because it enables us to see that a process is involved. Furthermore, it is instructive, because the emphasis is placed more upon the type of soils rather than on the sower. The image of the sower tells us that sowing needs to be done: God’s news needs to be spread.

However the variety of ‘soils’ tells us that the results are not uniform. Some of the crop grew well, some poorly, some hardly at all.

Let’s think about this. People often assume that success in outreach is fundamentally a matter of methodology. It is the sower, not the soil who is more important. Package the message the right way and churches will be crawling with converts.

Outcomes. But that is to miss the point. The purpose of the seed, or the Word, is not so much to change one form of soil into another, but rather to expose the quality of the soil. Spreading God’s good news, Jesus is saying, is not an exercise in human manipulation but a demonstration of the ways people receive God’s word.

This doesn’t mean God’s news shouldn’t be well presented. But Jesus is telling us that in the same way that it remains a mystery even to the modern farmer as to why seed changes and grows into a successful crop, so it remains hidden to our eyes as to why the word of God takes root in people’s lives and grows. 

Responses. The reality is that when we declare the message of Jesus the responses vary enormously. In the end they depend, not so much on how we preach, but upon the attitudes of the people present.

All this raises the question of how we have received God’s news. Has the seed of God’s news about Jesus changed us? Is our relationship with Jesus such that we want to play our part in spreading the news?

Spreading the news can be as simple as telling friends our story of faith, focusing on our new understanding of Jesus Christ and our commitment to him, and then inviting them to church.

The evidence shows that most people respond to God’s news because someone has told their story of faith to others and then invited them to church.