“We will bury you,” shouted Nikita Khrushchev, the Premier of the Soviet Union, at a 1956 reception with diplomats from the United States and Europe. The Cold Warwas ramping up and the clash of cultures, political philosophy, nations and peoples slanted towards Armageddon. Mere twenty or so years earlier, Adolph Hitler was contemplating the “final solution” to eliminate Jews from the face of the earth while planning to cleanse the world of “undesirables” and secure the supremacy of the Aryan race. 100 years before the Nazi’s were in power, the United States Congress debated the morality of slavery and the human value of people of color - black, brown, red or yellow. The debate eventually turned into the bloody Civil War. We can go back in history for ages and see a consistent pattern of segregation, marginalization, dehumanization and violence. Not much has changed. A viewing of the evening TV news testifies to this. In stark contrast to man’s history and the evening news is the Good News.
The Grace and Mercy of the triune God is the Good News. All are welcome. All are loved. All are included in the offer for eternal relationship. There is no ethnic cleansing. There is no political correctness. There is no superior qualifying race. Just the Good News.
Although ignored, altered and denied by “historians,” the Good News is the basis for so much positive change throughout the centuries. The list is endless. Institutions such as hospitals, schools and universities, orphanages, disaster relief agencies have sprung forth from the hearts of men and women transformed by the Good News. The elimination of societal sanctioned slavery as well as our democratic values is based in the Good News. The Declaration of Independence clearly states, We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Beautiful art, music and literature find their inspiration in the Good News. Countless acts of selfless sacrifice flow from the Good News. As Pastor Ed is given to say, “So What?!”
We live in a society and culture that is rapidly declining into elitism, fragmentation and alienation. We have become people accustomed to inconsiderate comments and diatribes. Civility and respect are in short supply as illustrated so blatantly in our political discourse. Facebook or Twitter has given cowardly cover for personal insult, diatribe and meanness. Yet social media is an indicator of our deep seated need for community and relationship. Everything about us yearns for Good News.
Christ-followers everywhere are called to take the Good News to everyone. The individual believer may not start an international charitable agency or found a children’s hospital but every believer can start a relationship with another person. I encourage us to form relationships with people outside our comfort zones, with those who do not “look” like us, or with those considered “untouchables.” The sermon this past weekend illustrated two examples of seeking and reaching people outside the circle. The Samaritans were untouchable and unclean but Philip went to them and later the Apostles came and laid hands of them to receive the Holy Spirit. Philip sat and spoke the Good News to a Gentile and a Black man at that. The Ethiopian Eunuch was never the same and neither was his nation.
As Pastor Ed indicated, the welcome mat at GateWay is out and the door open for anyone who wants to come in. I am challenged again to seek out relationships with people outside my comfort zone. As Christ-followers, have we put out the personal welcome mat? A good place to start for we at GateWay is to use the Oikos Card. Start a list of those in your zone of contacts and begin praying and seeking ways to initiate acts of good will so you may have the chance to share the Good News. Another, and perhaps more challenging way, is to take the lead of Jesus who stated that He stood at the door of our hearts and knocked. To any who would open the door, He would come in and dine. Consider inviting over for dinner someone new.