This week we are delighted to share a guest post from Cor Deo 2011 team member Huw Williams. Huw is now pastoring the International Church of Torino, in Italy (his blog is here). Over to Huw:
I wonder if you saw this. There was a powerful moment in a government press conference here this week, when the Italian Welfare Minister Elsa Fornero broke down in tears as she announced the latest raft of austerity measures. Whatever the complexities of the financial situation across Europe right now (and I don’t pretend to understand them all) at least one thing is clear – that there have been plenty of people making capital (whether it be financial or political) out of the suffering of millions people. Ms Fornero seems to stand alone as someone who announces what may well be necessary in a manner befitting her message
As disciples of Jesus, we carry a message of high-octane emotional content. It’s a message of our own moral failure, of our desperate need of salvation, of our own helplessness to help ourselves. It’s a message of all the brokenness and of all the lovelessness which is our life East of Eden. And yes, as unpopular as it may seem, the Bible is unambiguous in its message of coming judgement, which we do well both not to ignore, and also to proclaim with tears in our eyes. Paul for one certainly seems to think this an appropriate response –
“For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of Christ.” (Phil 3:18)
But the gospel is also a message of good news. Of the Father’s overwhelming love, initiative, saving work and gift of His Son as Saviour. Of the Son’s willing obedience and humility and death and resurrection. Of the Spirit’s love being poured into the hearts of all of God’s people. We have been studying Luke 1 in our Bible Studies here over the last few weeks, and we’ve been struck by how much joy there is in the chapter. I’d never noticed it so clearly before! Angels bring joyful messages while Mary, Elizabeth and Zechariah all speak of their great joy at what God is doing. And it continues into chapter 2, where the joy of heaven seems to overflow and spill into earth as those hillside shepherds get a musical performance to die for, from hosts of angels praising God for His incredibly lavish gift and favour to us here on earth.
There is nothing emotionally neutral about the gospel. Whether it is with tears of sorrow for the lost, or tears of joy at God’s unspeakable gift, let’s not give the impression that the good news of Jesus is a passive message. Let’s live and speak the gospel in a manner which befits the message.