When is the Gospel "Fake News"?
Weâ€™re constantly bombarded by divisiveness within our daily newsâ€”the right calling the left â€śfake news,â€ť the left dismissing the â€śnewsâ€ť of the right through quiet (or not so quiet) condescension. Whatever the case, neither hardly qualifies as news. Itâ€™s stale and unimaginative culture war posturing where everyone seems perennially angry. Yet underneath all the anger lays deep fearâ€”fear that our world, our culture, our church, our familyâ€”everythingâ€”is tearing apart. But God calls his people to bring â€śGood Newsâ€ť of great joy. We are the euangĂ©lion of Jesus Christâ€”eu means â€śgoodâ€ť and Ăˇngelos means â€śmessenger.â€ť Believers are meant to be like angels bringing good news of what Jesus has done, is doing, and will do in the world. We should be the least fearful of all people because we believe in Jesus, who was born to fulfill â€śthe oath he swore to our father Abraham: to set us free from the hands of our enemies, free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life.â€ť (Luke 1:73-75) So, we must ask, â€śIs the story of our life in Christ good news or fake news?â€ť Well, a couple of questions. First, are we doing and saying anything new? Second, does it embody the good? A quick glance at the way churches are mimicking the surrounding culture through bickering and partisanship, belies the notion that their posture in the world is either new or good. The church seems more a clichĂ© of culture than a contrast to it. What makes this even more problematic is our claim to follow the Prince of Peace. If we are divisive and fearful then weâ€™re not only clichĂ© but hypocritically clichĂ©. Doubly boring. Doubly bad. This sort of â€śgospelâ€ť is fake news, hardly worth the bits and bytes itâ€™s communicated over. So, whereâ€™s the good news we long for and why are we having such a hard time embodying it in ways that are either new or good? Where is our confidence in our Risen Lord who has conquered division and death? What would it mean for you and I to have a renewed vision of the gospel as truly good news and to become confident messengers of its transforming power? So much of our imagination is now captured by the right or the left that itâ€™s hard to think outside of these culturally prescribed categories. Perhaps thatâ€™s why it took a 500-year-old painting to jolt my imagination. I donâ€™t remember where I ran across it, but there I was, confronted with DaVinciâ€™s famous painting of The Last Supper. His masterpiece depicts a microcosm of Godâ€™s people past and present. And it struck me that all of the radical political and ideological differences (and inherent conflicts) of our own culture are represented by those gathered around that table. The disciples seated to the right and left of Jesus were as ideologically diverse and divided as we are today. A fractious bunch of infighters all vying for a slice of the new kingdom, whatever it might look like. Were the zealots arguing for insurrection against the damnable religious mainstream in cahoots with the deep state? Were the tax collectors and moderates more confident in the goods of compromise and stability in the market? Who knows? But itâ€™s not hard to imagine them all claiming that God was on their side. Hardly news. Itâ€™s an old, stale story. So, who did Jesus side with? Right or left? Conservative or Liberal? Moderate or Revolutionary? Or did he opt for something more inclusive like a lowest-common-denominator faith where everyone should just get along? None of these options seem to fit. But when the pressure mounted, Christ died for each disciple while they were fleeing, cowering, or denying himâ€”while they were â€śyet sinners.â€ť I wonder how long they continued arguing with and blaming each other for the way things went wrong? Jesus doesnâ€™t argue ideology with them. He doesnâ€™t take up one political platform over against another. He interjects his own politics, the politics of the Trinityâ€”a politics characterized by an eternal delightful self-giving love. This love canâ€™t be stopped by any division, fearful darkness, or death. Jesus goes forward, not just telling the truth about Godâ€™s love, but embodying it. He does not win arguments. Rather, he lays down his life so the world will know the love of God. He displays the life he has with the Father and invites us into that life. I wonder, might Lent be the place for us to give up our well-reasoned and tightly-held ideologies for the sacrificial love of the other we so disdain? Wouldnâ€™t that be good news?