“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”” (Romans 10:14-15)
When the disciples set out from Jerusalem after Jesus’ resurrection they had a clear objective in mind. They were sent, to preach the “Good news” about Jesus having risen from the dead. When Jesus rose from the dead he proved that the military might of the kingdom of Rome had no power or authority over him. The Roman world had been hearing for years (since at least the reign of Augustus Caesar) that their king was in fact a deity, who brought peace to all the earth, who ended wars, who brought justice to the land. The Roman king published the news of their king’s accomplishments through issued statements called “euangelions.” Literally “good newses.”
Of course, were you to sit the “Good news” (euangelion) of Jesus next to the “Good news” (euangelion) of Caesar, it would become very clear, very fast which of the two is actually good. In one version of the good news a king reigns via military might, imposes peace by means of the sword, disposes people of land, property, dignity, stability, religious belief, and in general destroys the social fabric and seeks to replace it with a new propaganda driven king-at-the-center worldview that doesn’t hold up to any kind of real scrutiny. In the other version of good news the King grafts the world into a story of a kingdom of justice, mercy, and salvation that has been unfolding since the beginning of time. In this version of the good news poor eat, blind see, sick are healed, sinners made clean, peace is imposed by the restoration of relationship, and social fabric is woven together with a new kind of beautiful and rugged thread … the thread of the King himself.
It’s not hard to figure out which euangelion is actually good news and which is a farce.
What really turned the world to belief in the legitimate good news was the fact that if you hung out with the band of people who claimed to believe in this new kind of good news, you would find that they weren’t kidding around. They weren’t just talking about it, they were living it. That’s something that Caesar and his followers couldn’t match.
So in the space of a few hundred years worship of Caesar and his vast kingdom and accomplishment was entirely replaced by the worship of Jesus of Nazareth, the real, risen, reigning king of the world.
That’s what turned the world.
What turned you?
For the apostle Paul it was an unexpected encounter with risen Jesus along a road and a question: “Why do you persecute my people?”
For me it was an encounter with Christians who lived the love and truth of Jesus in real life and told me, very simply, that God loved me. That’s really all it took.
So what turned you?
And here’s the next, and perhaps more difficult step: “What is going to turn your neighbor, your friend, your co-worker, your kids?”
What’s going to turn Redmond, Washington?
Whatever it is, let’s go live that.