In Mark 1:15 Jesus declares that “The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” Jesus begins his ministry by proclaiming the good news or gospel that the Kingdom of God was near. God’s Kingdom was coming because God’s King was coming.
But how is the Kingdom of God good news? For most of us today the arrival of a King to rule over us does not sound like good news at all! We want to be free, no kind of rule sounds like good news.
And this was the lie of Satan way back in the Garden of Eden when the Serpent portrayed God as a tyrant, holding us back, keeping the best for himself. But God is not a tyrant – his rule is one of freedom, mercy, love, justice, life, blessing and peace.
King Jesus comes both to demonstrate to us the goodness of living under the reign of God and to set us free from our self-imposed exile from God and slavery to the tyrannical rule of sin. The church (the people of God) looks forward to a glorious future that God has promised us in Christ. But the story of the Bible is that this Kingdom has now broken in and is at work saving and restoring a people. Where the good and gracious reign of King Jesus can be seen. In the church we find a taste of what it means to be truly human… again.
It is the gospel which answers the deepest and most noble aspirations of our society. It is the gospel which satisfies the restless longing of our souls, the residual image of God in man, marred but not forever lost. The church as the foretaste of restored humanity demonstrates to the world (through the goodness of their lives together) that their good desires and aspirations are satisfied only in Jesus. The church declares to the world in word and deed that it is good to live under the reign of King Jesus.
What could it mean for the gospel to be “good news” to South Africa today?
Issues of race have been an even more contentious issue in South Africa over the last few months. From models tweeting, artists painting, students FaceBooking , bloggers blogging, politicians marching and presidents suing issues of race have been a hot topic in social media forums lately. Christians have not been exempt from these issues and sadly enough have mostly just been a PG-rated mirror of the attitudes emanating from their respective communities.
We live in a county that eighteen years into democracy remains heavily divided along racial and economic lines. How is it that the gospel can be seen as good news to South Africa? For make no mistake, if we have a gospel that has nothing to say to this issue in our time, in our country – then we have an impotent gospel!
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