by Grant Roth
As I write this, I’ve been serving in ministry at Southeast for two years and one month. In that time, I have printed many lesson plans, ministry charts, and illustrative graphics from the church’s printers. However, I had only printed in grayscale and was frustrated by this limitation. I wanted to make color-coded lesson plans and brilliantly designed graphics, but the pesky printers, not allowing me to print in color, leached all of the creativity out of my projects, reducing them to a monochromatic sheet of paper. That is until I discovered 13 days ago that I hadn’t been accessing the printers’ full potential. Apparently, the printers have always been capable of printing in color—I just didn’t understand the system completely.
I don’t know how it took me more than two years to figure out how to use a simple printer. I probably fast-forwarded that portion of the training video. But, now, I suddenly find the printing system to be so much more helpful to my day-to-day ministry. Each printer is a multipurpose, multifaceted machine that can meet my needs in ways I didn’t realize possible two weeks ago.
I think the Good News of Jesus is similar. Not to minimize Christ and compare Him to a printer—though you could call Him “the Prints of Peace”...no, I don’t like it, never mind—but the Good News, or the Gospel, of Jesus is multifaceted. It reveals the truth about the person who can meet our needs in ways we didn’t even realize possible.
Our typical articulation of the Good News of Jesus is something along the lines of, “You’ve sinned. You’re separated from God. Jesus is the way back to right relationship with God.” That’s entirely true, but it’s just one facet of the Gospel. It’s a monochromatic print of the more robust, more brilliant Gospel message of Jesus. Hear this clearly: Jesus came to save us from our sin and restore us to the Father…but He did more. Our culture is hungry for the “more.” If I’m honest, I’m hungry for the “more.”
I’m not a sociological expert by any means, but I don’t have to be one to recognize that the culture we live in has more or less erased God and the concept of sin. The existence of God and the reality of our sin don’t depend on the belief of 21st Century Americans. But what makes the Gospel, or the Good News of Jesus, good for people who don’t have much of a mental framework for God or sin? We can discuss the absolutely vital, and somewhat hard-to-spell, doctrines like justification, propitiation, redemption, and regeneration. Each one of those words describes the powerful work of Jesus and His Spirit and emphasizes an aspect of the Good News. But when I have a hard time remembering the difference between those words, and many don’t know their definitions, the Gospel can begin to feel so lofty and untethered from our everyday lives and struggles that it is easy to miss its beauty and gravity.
What makes the Good News good for the gas station clerk who is attempting to ignore the clock in hopes that the final hour of their shift passes quickly? What makes the Good News good for the stay-at-home mom torn between crawling on the ground and playing with her toddler or throwing an episode of CoComelon or Bluey on the TV to create a distraction so she can have a solitary moment to catch her breath? What makes the Good News good for the elderly widower suffering from dementia who will be spending this Christmas alone in a nursing home with his fading memories of family-filled holidays? What makes the Good News good for you and me as we meander through the monotony of our daily routine, eating the same bagel with cream cheese on the same 17-minute commute to the same building to keep working on the same set of tasks we were working on last month?
In John 10:10, Jesus opens our eyes to a facet of the Gospel that brings it out of the theological clouds and places it with practicality in our ordinary lives. Exposing the motives of other religious leaders and revealing His own intentions for His ministry and work, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” An aspect of the Good News that my heart often overlooks is that Jesus offers a kind of life that isn’t available anywhere else. He offers life to the full, which is just a translation of a single Greek word that could also be translated “above and beyond,” “more than necessary,” and “uncommon or extraordinary.”
On a very practical level, followers of Jesus can experience life—even through our regular routines—in a manner that is “uncommon or extraordinary.” We can enjoy a quality of life that fills our souls “more than necessary.” This sounds simplistic, but the source of that sort of life is knowing God intimately and walking in close personal relationship with Jesus (John 17:3). I’m still grappling with this personally, but I am finding it to be wonderfully true. The more I become deeply aware of God’s presence with me and love for me, the more each moment of my ordinary life becomes meaningful and delightful. Following Jesus guarantees hardship (2 Timothy 3:12), but it also allows us to enjoy life to the full…life the way it was meant to be lived.
The Good News is good for everyone who accepts it because a life of temporary discomfort with Jesus is more delightful than a life of temporary comfort apart from Jesus. While the people around us may not readily acknowledge the existence of God or the reality of their individual sin, everyone could admit, or is actively admitting, a sense that life just isn’t what it should be. There’s something in our souls that isn’t quite satisfied with the way things are. We can point a finger at our job, our friends, our marriage, politics, or our favorite sports team, but what’s truly missing is an enjoyment of an intimate connection to our Creator. We’re all craving life the way it was meant to be lived, and that’s part of what Jesus came to offer.
This common desire for life the way it was meant to be lived is the fuel that can propel us into a deeper grasp of, and gratitude for, the more wholistic and magnificent Gospel message of Jesus. If you know Jesus, join me in journeying deeper into an awareness of His presence and goodness each day. If, however, you don’t know Jesus personally, and the “Good News” of Jesus hasn’t seemed all that good, leaving you skeptical and confused, just know that’s how I felt about the church’s printers, too.
Grant Roth is a Preaching Ministry Associate at Southeast Christian Church.