So I’ve been preaching through a series at Hunter Hills on the good news. We have been thinking more deeply about the gospel, the astonishing news that God has decisively won the victory over sin, evil and death on the cross and in the resurrection of Jesus. God’s new world, God’s future, God’s new creation has been launched on Easter morning. With that, I am thinking about how do we as a church embody the good news and become good news people (that’s this Sunday’s message by the way). You can’t program this stuff among a church, it just has to naturally and organically grow.
One of the things I’ve been blessed with is great mentors, and today I got to eat lunch with one of my dear friends and teachers in the ministry, Buddy Bell. Buddy is the preaching minister at Landmark Church of Christ, and he’s been a big influence on my life, and in the life of my family. I’m having this conversation with Buddy and we are both talking about wanting our church members to grasp this idea of embodying the good news in their neighborhoods and work places, and Buddy just got through agreeing with me, “You can’t program this stuff, it just has to happen.” I don’t know if he planned in advance what happened next, but the timing was perfect.
Right after that statement, the waiter brings our food. He asks the usual, “Do you need anything else?” and I’m about to brush him off when Buddy says, “We’re about to pray for our meal. Is there anything we can pray about for you?” And just like that my questions about embodying the good news and helping our churches to become good news people have been answered. Sometimes we get too busy thinking about it that we don’t slow down and see where the Spirit of God might be at work.
You see, I can create a program for meeting your neighbors, hospitality, evangelism, etc. The fact is, those things just don’t work well this day and age. But, when a 50 something (sorry Buddy!) sits down with a 30 something, embodies the good news, models loving care for another in praying for them to the loving God who created the world, discipleship is happening. I’ve been learning from Buddy for nearly 20 years, and today the learning continues. How simple it is to slow down, pay attention to the Spirit, and be a loving presence and let people know that the world is a different place because the Creator God has broken into our midst on Christmas and launched a new world on Easter.
So, sorry Buddy for drawing attention to you on the internet, but we have to pass on stories like this to others. Everywhere you go, in every moment you exist, in every encounter you have, you have the opportunity to embody the good news and proclaim that this world is a different place because God doesn’t abandon us to our sin, our decay, or our violence. He lovingly enters into it in Jesus Christ and defeats it, so that we can be released to be the people he created us to be; good news people.