Good news! The IRS made a mistake and you have a $3500 refund coming in the mail! Wow! A 60” plasma HDTV may be in your immediate future.

Good news! It’s not cancer as we suspected. Just a bladder infection. Take these antibiotics and you should feel fine in a few days.

Good news! You made a “C” on the exam. But, because everyone else in the class did so poorly and because I grade on the curve, your “C” actually translates into an “A+.” Congratulations!

Good news comes in many shapes and sizes. But whatever form it takes, good news is always welcome. We like getting good news. It delights us. Only someone who is cynical in the extreme—a glass-half-empty kind of person—looks for a cloud in the good-news-silver-lining. Most of us aren’t that suspicious. We hear good news and rejoice!

Good news is often surprising, unexpected—a twist or turn we didn’t anticipate. But—when it comes to good news—we all like surprises. Good news can jump out of the shadows and take us unawares anytime it wants to.

And have you noticed how often good news occurs in the context of bad news? We are presented with a horrifying bill, a worrisome diagnosis, the realities of what we actually deserve. Then: “Oops! There’s been a mistake. Surprise! Good news!” Good news gets better when the alternative looks bleak.

A Bad News World

We live in a bad news world. “I don’t love you anymore.” “Your position is being eliminated.” “You need a new transmission.” Winning the lottery is for one-in-a-million. Getting the shaft is for the rest of us. We expect bad news. It hangs over our head like Damocles’ sword. Deep down, we are resigned to the notion that bad news is what we get because bad news is what we deserve.

Precisely because of this, people in this world yearn for good news. They need good news. They hunger for good news like a starving man obsessed with food.

People of faith! Are you listening? It is tragic that we should be so often painted as bearers of bad news. Glum messengers of doom. Grim judges of the world’s inadequacies. Gloomy prophets of eternal punishment. The world does not appreciate and does not long listen to such pronouncements. People in this world have enough bad news in their lives. They don’t need Christians piling on. They feel there is something unsportsmanlike in believers’ tendency to warn, “If you think this is bad …”

Don’t misunderstand me. There is a great deal of bad news we must break to a broken world. When we warn of the wages of sin and the eternal dangers of unbelief, we are doing no more than telling the truth. And sometimes the truth hurts.

But bad news must never be our prime business. For if there is anything that should be characteristic of Christians, it is our utter absorption with good news.

A Good News People

After all, we serve a Master who majored in good news. He went everywhere preaching it. The crowds flocked to hear him talk about it. Tax collectors and prostitutes (all-too-familiar with bad news) were drawn to Jesus’ joyous announcements of news-too-good-to-be-true. Jesus did not change the world with pronouncements of doom and gloom. He changed the world with surprising, unexpected, incredible good news.

It was this good news that changed our lives. We heard the unbelievably wonderful message and decided to believe it. And we have never been the same since.

And we have been entrusted with the mission of announcing this good news to a bad news world. It is good news we have been sent to preach, not bad. Jesus wants us crowing it from rooftops, singing it on street corners, exulting in it at every opportunity.

Good news! God loves us more than we can possibly imagine. He does not treat us as our sins deserve. We chose the way of death but God has blessed us with life instead. He offers mercy and grace where we expected judgment and condemnation. Good news!

Better to delight the world with good news than to keep shoveling worse news on top of bad. The saying is true: You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

[Published in LookOut Magazine, June, 2011.]