Do people really want to hear the Good News? I think people want to hear good news, but not necessarily the Good News. That’s a generalization of course.
There’s a difference between good news and the Good News. Good News shows up in your Facebook feed – someone did something nice. That’s great. I have no issue with good news. I wish there was more of it. We could certainly use more good news these days.
But I’m not sure the vast majority of people really want to hear the Good News. Even many Christians. That’s my observation based on how many Christians acts, talk, and what they support.
I think many Christians would rather hear that they have an essential role in this whole Good News thing. But here’s the thing – the Good News isn’t about us. We aren’t responsible for it. We only receive it. And then can go and share it.
I think there are many Christians who would rather hear how they are responsible for their own salvation, rather than it being a gift. If we each are responsible for our own salvation, then God owes us something for what we do. If we are responsible, then we get to determine who is a threat to our salvation and who is a friend.
The theology of glory is a popular theology these days. It shows up in messages like the Prosperity Gospel. And many buy into this fake gospel.
The theology of empire is also popular. It has been for centuries. It’s the idea that the empire (whatever form that takes – a nation, money, work, sports, politics, etc) will save us. The empire only demands your loyalty in exchange.
The theology of consumerism is also popular. If we only buy more stuff, then we will be full and fulfilled. We’ll have enough and be happy.
Except these are all lies. Yet, for some reason, we seem to want to try them out again and again. Maybe we haven’t tried them the right way. Sure…That’s it.
Too many would rather not hear the Good News. But we need to hear it.
Sermons proclaim the Good News. Sermons can happen in many different forms too. A sermon that upsets the status quo, that causes the hearer to do self-examination, that opens our eyes to the truth about the world and our lives, that exposes injustice and sin for what they are – that’s a sermon that is opening the way for the Good News. It’s a sermon that has the authority to call the thing what it is, as Martin Luther once said. And from there, it can proclaim the Good News of God – that it is all God’s work. We can only receive.
A sermon that reinforces what we believe to be true, never causes discomfort, never upsets the hearer – well, that’s not a sermon at all. That’s a pep talk at best. Propaganda at worst.