6/13/99, P3A

“Ain’t That Good News!”
Matthew 9: 35-38

 was recently held hostage for three days in a retreat center which had no newspaper stand, no telephone in the sparse room, no internet hookup; but worse, no television news. After a few hours I had to find the news. Hidden off in one corner of a lobby I spied that familiar faint flickering light we would all recognize as a television. Another guy had found it first and as I walked in he said, “I’m a news junkie and I had to have my Headline News!” I knew exactly how his withdrawal pains felt. He and I sat mesmerized for thirty minutes. After our fix we were up to date on the news, we were in control of the world again! We two “TV-Aholics” agreed that it was the coverage of the string of Kennedy, King and Kennedy assassinations in the 60s that got us hooked on news.

Many of us live afraid that some major news event will break and that we will miss it. We love the news; but, there is never much good news.

We have to tune into Jesus to get the Good News: Our Savior who, “Went about all the cities proclaiming the good news of the kingdom...” (9: 35, NRSV).

The Good News proclaims that despite wars, and rumors of impending wars, there is hope for peace, wholeness, fulfillment, and a sense of living within God’s Will. The Good News also gives hope that the world can be redeemed and that everyone can share in it’s joy. The Good News is that even though some teenagers seem to be rebelling, many others are falling on their knees at the feet of the Savior. The Good News is that although many have repeatedly attempted to bury the Church over the centuries, it has proven to be the most elusive corpse of history, and it is flourishing amid the bad news by proclaiming Good News. And, the Good News is that we who have responded to its clarion call can be used to bring new life to all humanity.

However, the best news of all is that after all these years of watching bombings, murders, and nightmarish violence on television news, we can experience new life in our old battered hearts. After witnessing all of that bad news, one bright light of the Good News can delete our memory bank of bad news; or, give us new eyes to see and spiritually sensitized ears to hear. It’s kind of like getting your clothes back from the cleaners all fresh as new.

Some of the most hopeful words in scripture are in our text: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (v. 36).

Ours is therefore a calling to compassion for everyone who is oppressed, downtrodden, and lost without a shepherd. If we are, as C.S. Lewis often said, going to be “Little Christs” for others, we must emulate His compassion and proactive ministry.

As a child I was deeply impressed by a furloughed missionary visit to my Dad’s church by the Paul Decker family. They had returned from their first of many tours of duty to Sierra Leone, West Africa. Four years prior, the Deckers had sold their home, their cars, most of their personal possessions, and had responded to God’ call to go as a mission family to a far away land. They told of their sacrifice as if it were nothing extraordinary; but, when they shared their great reward of being used as agents of Christ, the tears of joy flowed. When they told of the many wonderful people of their beautiful adopted home their voices rose with exhilaration. Their sharing of personal stories of compassionate love for the harassed and helpless was a time in our worship service when the Holy Spirit spoke to many hearts.

The Deckers worked for many more years in Sierra Leone. They helped build hospitals, churches, schools, and worked toward political equality for all citizens. Great strides were made during those long years; yet, we can only grieve to know that due to a recent civil war, and at this very moment, some of those same believers are held hostage and many of their homes and institutions have been decimated. But, still we hear Good News that eventually, in God’s own time, there will be rebuilding and new life. New missionaries will go back after the war and rebuild buildings and model with their lives the Good News. You could become one.

Still in our day, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few...” (v.37). Despite modern worldwide communication capabilities, and air travel to anywhere, few respond to His call to go to everybody everywhere with the Good News.

Will we proclaim the Good News on the corner where we live, in our homes, schools, work places, and everywhere? Better yet, we can live as Good News People in our homes, schools and job sites. Sure, we can (as our text says, v. 38) “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers...” But will we respond? Few are called to go to international ministries, but all are called to ministry where they are!

Since we are physically and emotionally just one individual, we can not be expected to leave parts of our being at home when we engage in ministry. Thus, if we are a bearer of Good News at church, and at home, our public persona is also a bearer of Good News. Our power of personality, along with a Christ-like lifestyle, is our best testimony to the world. Actually, it’s not so much what we say that is an influence, but what we are that means the most. Think about the persons who have led you to know the Good News; don’t you see a thread of similarity to the Christ in them? Not all were preachers, or Sunday School teachers: Mostly they were neighbors, coaches, and public school teachers that we felt mirrored Christ in their lives.

Don’t we all want to be a bearer of Good News to someone today?

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor

6/13/99, P3A