FIRST-PERSON: You have the news that people want to hear
LAKE FOREST, Calif. (BP)--Clearly, every Christian is called to go out into the world and bring people into the kingdom. We’re supposed to share what we’ve been given.
But what exactly are we supposed to share?
Here’s your message in two words: Good News.
Mark 16:15 (NLT) tells us to “preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere.”
Do you like to get good news? Everybody does.
Do you like to share good news? Most people do. In the Warren household we compete in who gets to share good news.
I know you’re thinking, “The people I work with, my friends -- they’re not interested in the Good News.” You’re dead wrong! They may not be interested in religion, but they are interested in the Good News. The problem is not that your friends and co-workers aren’t interested. The problem is you have forgotten how good the Good News really is.
Once you’ve been a Christian for a while, you forget how miserable it was to live without hope. You forget what it was like to worry where you would go when you die. You forget what it was like to have guilt and fear and regrets and bitterness and boredom in your life before Christ brought meaning and purpose and significance.
What happens is -- the longer you’re a Christian the more you tend to take for granted how good the Good News really is.
If you go out on the street and ask, “How do you convince God to like you?” 99 percent of the people will say, “You’ve got to work real hard to get God’s approval and you’ve got to be really, really good. You’ve got to keep a lot of rules and you probably have to follow a lot of regulations and do some rituals. You’ve got to be religious. I'm none of those things -- so I'm never going to please God or get to know Him.”
The Good News is that you get right with God through a relationship based just on trusting -- not through a religion of rules, regulations and rituals.
When I trust my life to Jesus Christ I’m given three incredible, fabulous, wonderful benefits. These are the three benefits you need to share with people: He takes care of your past, your present and your future.
-- He forgives your past.
If we were to take everything you’ve ever done or said or thought and make a movie of it and show it on a screen to everybody, you’d be really nervous! And probably embarrassed.
And so would I -- because none of us bat 1,000. Nobody’s perfect. Everybody's made mistakes. Everyone has skeletons in their closet -- things they wish had never happened. God comes along and says, “When you trust Jesus Christ with your life, I take that movie and I burn it. I take everything you’ve ever done and wipe the slate clean. You get to start over with a brand new life.” Is that good news?
-- He takes care of the present and gives you a purpose for living right now.
You are not an accident. God created you for a purpose. But you’re never going to know God’s purpose for your life until first you get to know God. When you get to know God, you’re going to know who you are. When you figure out God, you’re going to figure out yourself. I meet people all the time saying, “I'm just trying to find myself.” You probably aren’t going to like yourself once you find yourself! They say, “There’s something missing in my life.” God’s missing! You weren’t made to live and go through life just on your own power.
-- He gives you a future.
And that’s a home in heaven. Most people hope they’re going to heaven. But they’re not sure. Most people think if you do more good in your life than bad, maybe God will grade on a curve and say, “OK, you can come in.”
Wrong! It doesn’t work that way. You won’t get into heaven on your own power, because you’re just not good enough. The Bible says that heaven is a perfect place -- free of sorrow, suffering and sin. That means only perfect people get to go there. If he let imperfect people into heaven, it wouldn’t be perfect anymore. And that leaves me out and it leaves you out, too.
There’s only one way you can get into heaven: on somebody else’s ticket. Since none of us are perfect, God came to earth in human form and that form was called Jesus Christ. He lived a life of perfection. He died on the cross, paid for our sin and then went back to heaven. Now you get into heaven on his ticket -- if you trust him.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23, NIV)
It’s a gift. That means you can’t earn it, you can’t work for it, you can’t own it in any way other than accepting it.
Think about these three things: God says you get to know him just by trusting. If you trust His Son with your life, you get forgiveness for your past, a purpose for living in your present and a home in heaven in the future. Is that Good News? I guess so!
Do you think anybody you know would be interested in that? Of course!
Satan has fooled you. You think that none of your friends or the people you work with are interested in hearing the Good News. You’re dead wrong. The world is hungry for the Good News. They’re looking for it. There’s a great spiritual hunger in our world. I’ve discovered that the Good News keeps sounding better and better because the bad news of the world keeps getting worse and worse.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest churches. In addition, Warren is author of the New York Times bestseller "The Purpose-Driven Life" and "The Purpose-Driven Church," which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community.