That doesn’t appear to be the way of the world. Instead, the goal appears to be quite opposite! “Obtain rest & leisure for YOURSELF” is more like it! Have someone else cook, wash, clean, maintain the yard while we kick up our feet and RELAX! In other words, look out for number one, at all costs! Hmm, they can’t both be right! So, which is it?
Well, what if Someone came to challenge the way things are currently done (right down to the attitudes themselves)? What if in looking at the state of the world He proclaimed, “Enough! This is not the way I intended it to be! You got it all wrong!” Then proceeded to come and take His place as rightful King to bring freedom and rescue as He begins to restore the mess that’s been made (all the pain, hurt, corruption and decay a me-centered world brings)!
In Mark 1:15 Jesus appears on the scene saying: “It’s time! The kingdom of God is near! Seek forgiveness, change your actions, and believe this good news!” If Jesus is right and God indeed has come to claim His rightful place as King, what difference does it really make? And, by the way, what makes us think the message is even “Good News” anyway?
The answer, I believe, lies in the kind of King He is and the type of kingdom He offers. Understanding that would help us determine the type of “news” it really is (good or bad).
If the person becoming King is all-knowing, all-powerful, good, righteous & just, who IS and does everything out of a love that is perfect, generous and extravagant, who came to serve rather than be served, who is motivated by sacrificially giving of Himself (which happens to be the kind of King God is)*…well, that’s good news!
A kingdom run by that kind of God is good news! And if His kingdom is all about people who live this same way, that’s also good news!
And so we read that God chose to create mankind “in His image”...in order to reflect His image (Ge. 1:26-28). If He then asks us to love our enemies, it’s because that’s who He is (for instance, "while we turned our backs on God and were wasting our lives in sin, Christ died for us..."). As His image bearers He now asks us to reflect His image (of loving enemies) into the world!
If He tells us to be people who give, putting the needs of others before our own, giving to the needy, the poor, the down-and-out, it’s because that’s who He is (Mt. 5-7)!
He came to undo (and ultimately set us free from our enslavement to) this wrongfully guided understanding of the way the world “works.” Instead of “me” focused, His way is “others-focused.” Instead of lording it over, it’s about serving others. Instead of hoarding more and more, it’s about giving. Instead of hatred, jealousy, bitterness, envy, revenge and strife, it’s about loving (even the “unlovely”?) (Good News!).
So, Jesus came to His own, loved His own, and spent His days restoring what had been distorted, renewing what had been corrupted, healing the sick and the hurting. He bound up the brokenhearted, offered hope to the hopeless and rest for the weary. All He did was filled with mercy and kindness and grace while announcing and teaching about God’s coming kingdom. In other words, He went about setting things right side up again (in a world that had gotten so far off) then once & FOR ALL (literally) He took on sin & the ultimate evil, death itself, exhausting and defeating them on the cross, so we could be free from the former way of living (and all its corrupt, decaying, worthless & empty ways) and the unknowing grip its had on us (That’s REALLY Good News)!
The story continues on to this day. Because just like Peter’s mother-in-law in Luke 4:38-39, Jesus sees us right where we’re at and comes to offer us HEALING and wholeness transforming us into Spirit-filled, kingdom-living people who reflect His image of justice & mercy through a life that loves and gives and SERVES (by His strength, in His way, and for His glory)! We are healed to serve :)
Because of Jesus (who came & claimed His initial victory (by defeating sin & death) and who will be returning again to set up His reign), we now get to live life as Good-News people sharing the Good News story (in word AND deed) right up until it’s culmination (which is on its way)!
Welcome to God and His Kingdom! It really is Good News! :)
*[See, Ex. 34:6; Dt. 7:9; 32:4; 1 Chronicles 29:11; Job 12:13; Ps. 9:8; 33:4-5, 13-15; 119:137; 145:17; 147:5; Jer. 9:24, 10:12, 23:24; Mt. 20:28; John 10:11, 15:13; Ro. 5:6-8, 11:33; Eph. 2:4, 7; James 1:5]