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Good news: Supper’s ready

February 14, 2016

  
Christians talk about preaching the gospel.

As I have said before on this blog the gospel literally means good news. This sad world needs good news but does it expect to find it among Christians or in their churches?

Started my half term reading and have finally got round to a book I bought nearly a year ago. Philip Yancey’s “Vanishing grace”, subtitled “Whatever happened to the good news?”

The book’s premise is that while the Christian message is good news, most people who do not share our faith cannot see it. Rather the message they pick up from us is bad news. Christians condemning all those who are not like them. 

Yancey quotes Eugene Peterson’s Message version of the Bible “God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again”.

If you think Christians are negative about you, that God hates you, think again.

Page 56 of the book pulled me up with a start. Yancey can often surprise me with the way he challenges us, but this was for another reason altogether.

He records a survey carried out in the US to find out the words that people most want to hear. The top 3 are:

1. I love you

2. I forgive you

3. Supper’s ready

You what? It’s not 1 and 2 that grab me initially. It’s number 3.

It is now over 35 years ago when I first heard a piece of music for the first time, which still remains my favourite song. I talk about this song in an earlier sermon blog post (“The Longest Psalm pt 1).

The song is called “Supper’s ready”.

Song is an understatement. 23 minutes of music that grabs me artistically, musically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.

A 23 minute journey portraying a multi layered battle between good and evil. Appropriately the song by Genesis reaches a climax in the biblical book of Revelation with “the supper of the mighty one”. Jesus, the “Lord of lords, King of kings” is triumphant and returns for his people to take them to a new home.

So I’m hooked in by Yancey!

He quotes an evangelist as saying that these 3 most desirable utterances, nicely sum up the good news of Jesus.

What is your view of God? Someone who hates you, is indifferent to you, labels you as a sinner? Someone who will forever hold your failures against you? Somone who wants to beat you up, or threaten you with hellfire?

Think again.

1. God loves you. He always has and he always will. Nothing you can do will or can change that. His love is absolute. That’s why he came into this world, in the person of Jesus, to “put the world right again”. 

2. God forgives you. As his killers hammered nails through his feet and hands, Jesus pleaded “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing”. He was not just talking about his executioners. He was talking about the whole of humankind. He was praying for you. And for me. Forgiveness for all. No exclusions.

3. God has prepared a supper for you. God does not invite you to a joyless life of do’s and dont’s, but to a life of celebration. To a life of joy in the here and now. To feast upon his generous grace. To know his love.

It brings me back yet again to a familiar story.

2 sons. One straight laced. One party animal. Sons of the same loving father. They somehow couldn’t see that love. One takes his money and runs as far as he can. The other stays in the father’s house out of joyless duty.

The one comes back when the money is gone and experiences the unconditional forgiveness of the father. Rather than the reception he expects he is received with an embrace and a party.

“Loved. Forgiven. suppered.”

The other son still cannot see his father’s love, except as something he is wrongly showing the runaway son. He sees no love and no forgiveness in his father. He refuses to party.

God loves you. He has forgiven you. He has a party prepared for you. No exceptions. He will receive you. He longs to do so.

Only you can deprive yourself of knowing his love forgiveness and lavish celebration.

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