Tuesday, March 26, 2013

It's good news!

Imagine with me, if you will, that you're a rookie news reporter and tonight is your first (and probably only) shot at anchoring the evening news. Normally you'd be thrilled at the opportunity but there's just one problem: all the news is bad.

I mean, really bad.

War looms on multiple fronts as both your neighboring countries aim all their military firepower at your tiny nation. Many (including some of your own family) sit behind enemy lines as prisoners of war. The lives that aren't risked in battle are equally in jeopardy as a mysterious virus sweeps the country taking more lives every day. National debt is soaring along with the personal debt of everyone you know (yourself included). Loans are defaulting and banks are now resorting to old-school tactics and sending thugs to "collect". And the only hope—the one man looked to by the nation to lead them out of this crisis—has suddenly and unexpectedly died. 

As you make a last minute review of your notes, however, the studio doors burst open.

"It's over!" the intruder shouts. "The war is over!" He excitedly explains how one of your neighboring countries called for peace, then turned their guns on your nation's other adversary, sending them into a full retreat and freeing the POWs in the process. But before he could even finish, the door flies wide again.

"They found a cure! A cure to that epidemic that's been killing everybody!"

"And ALL the debts are getting paid off!" shouted two more people in close succession. "The national debt has been paid and in response the banks are making a one-time pardon on all credit card debt!"

Once more the studio doors slam against the wall as they're thrown open.

"You'll never believe this, but he's alive!" the last intruder shouts. "The details are fuzzy, but..."

"We go live in TEN SECONDS, everyone!" your producer shouts.

As you clear your throat and prepare for the signal of the camera man—barely keeping a ridiculous grin from spreading across your face—your co-host leans over and whispers:

"Share the good news. Use words if necessary."

Ridiculous, right? Peace with one enemy. Victory over the other. Prisoners set free. The sick are healed. Debts are paid. Your savior is alive. And you're asked to restrain your tongue? Nobody would say something like that.

And yet...

We hear it all the time. "Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary." I suppose I understand the sentiment behind it. The news should be so transforming, so life-changing, that our very lives and conduct reflect the effects of the good news without a word being spoken. But the thing that is transforming and life-changing is the good news, not our good lives. Good news must be shared, proclaimed.

As Paul said in Romans:
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? (10:14)
 With Easter less than a week away, who are you sharing the good news with?


Rhett said...

Aaaah! ...Very encouraging thoughts about the Greatest News! Not keeping quiet about it. - Thanks Jared. - RT

Brendt said...

But, you see, your metaphor breaks down right there in the first sentence. Because, 99% of the time, when the Franciscan adage is observed, it's not our "first (and probably only) shot". Nor is every engagement between us and the other person committed because the other person is specifically wanting news (of any nature) from us.

Do some people hide behind the adage as an excuse to never "use words"? Certainly. But to swing the pendulum all the way to implying that the adage is invalid is to deny the truths in 1 Cor 3:5-8.

(And yes, I know that we are not certain of the adage's origins -- but it is most often attributed to St Francis and seems to fit his character.)

Jared Totten said...

Of course the metaphor breaks down. Every metaphor/analogy breaks down at some point. Even Jesus, the incarnate God/man couldn't tell one that didn't break down at some point.

I hope the larger point of the story can still be seen through my imperfect metaphor.

And I never even implied a pendulum swing in the opposite direction! If you got a sort of "Preach the gospel at all times. Live it out if necessary." message from what I wrote, then I would find that adage as unhelpful as the first! I will be the first to say that's not what I meant (and the last paragraph should have made that clear).

Brendt said...

I recognize that all metaphors break down at some point. My point is not that your metaphor is imperfect, but that it is invalid -- it breaks down on its initial premise. So much so, that the point of the story is inapplicable to your theological point.

Nor did I say that your pendulum swing was such that you were endorsing the contrapositive that you cited in your comment. (Though, to be sure, there are those who do endorse such silliness.)

Here's the bottom-line problem. Most of the time, an analogy/metaphor starts by assuming that the overall point is true, then one builds the metaphor around that point. But you see, if the point is that the Franciscan adage is invalid, then the point is not true.

As I stated before, it is misused by some (many?) to get out of ever using words. But just because something is misused/misinterpreted to excuse sin does not diminish the validity of that something. If it did, then the first thing we need to do is chuck the whole Bible.

Jared Totten said...


I'm trying to understand. Really I am.

Could you tell me plainly and simply what you think my initial premise is and how exactly it breaks down.

And try and keep it simple for me, please.

Brendt said...

I will respond but it may be a while. I sense no antagonism in your question (which is unlike most who decry the adage) and so I want to be sure that my response is as gracious and snark-free as possible.

Unknown said...

Thanks for that! It's a good point and well made - words are always necessary to share the gospel, otherwise people will just think we are 'good people' or have some motive behind our actions. We need to explain the gospel and why we live as we do or it means nothing.

Also, your email address didn't work from the comment on my blog, you can email me at only.in.christ25@gmail.com if you want.