Good News, Good Fear, and Good Change
The good news of Jesus brings good change, and that’s not always something that leaves us feeling warm and secure.
For the last decade, I have been blessed to teach my students about the life of Christ. The thing I love most about it is that every time I step away from teaching Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, I feel better acquainted with Jesus. Like he and I spent quality time together and I became more familiar with his voice.
One of the things he has shown me over these years is the weight of the good news he brought with him. The words “good news” are all over the pages of the Gospels. Jesus is constantly preaching about the “good news” of the kingdom. And I used to think of that good news in a small, neat, and tidy kind of way. Sort of like good news you’d receive when your office announces an upcoming casual Friday, or when your team wins the Super Bowl (or World Cup if you’re a soccer fan). Something that brings happiness, or that you might want to share with people, but something that doesn’t really change anything.
This type of good news doesn’t shape your life. But the good news of Jesus Christ is different. It’s different because he brings change. And change is scary.
“The good news of Jesus Christ is different. It’s different because he brings change. And change is scary.”
As I think about good news in my life that has stood the test of time, things that I would consider to be in my “top 10 list” of noteworthy autobiography items, I find a common thread that runs through all of them. They each brought with them a great amount of fear. Not the cheap Hollywood fear you can sit and watch secondhand, but the fear you can only feel from the inside. The kind that tells you change is about to happen. For instance, I think about the times my wife was pregnant. As we planned and prepared, looking so forward to the moment of holding new life in our arms, I also had a feeling like my chest was shrinking and it was harder to breath. I felt the fear. The warning that my life would never be the same.
But it wasn’t a bad fear. It was the good news kind of fear.
Perhaps too often we assume that fear is bad. But what if sometimes fear was actually an indication that life was about to get better? Or at least more full and more rich? What if those warnings were actually signals to slow down and get ready to enjoy something greater?
“What if those warnings were actually signals to slow down and get ready to enjoy something greater?”
I’m sad to say that for the first years of my teaching career, I portrayed the good news of Jesus as too small. I hadn’t addressed the weight of discipleship with my students. I’d left out the fear. But the more that I dig into and teach from the Gospels, the clearer the image of Jesus and his kingdom becomes. I’m hearing more clearly what he’s asking his disciples to do. And I can’t in good conscience leave out the fear anymore. Because change is scary and if my students encounter the Gospels without experiencing personal change, no fruitfulness in their lives, then I’m afraid something is missing.
In Luke 5, Jesus says that nobody puts new wine into old wineskins because as the new wine ferments, the old skins will burst. They can’t handle it. The old wineskins are firm and set in their ways. They hold to their shape because they’ve already been stretched. And even though Jesus is saying this to a group of legalistic Pharisees, I know all too well what it feels like to be set in my ways, afraid to stretch my leathery soul. I know the fear of jumping into the wine of the new covenant. And I think my students already know that fear as well. The fear of change. The fear of not knowing where God will take them or what he has planned for them. But remember, maybe fear isn’t always a bad thing.
“…the fear of not knowing where God will take them or what he has planned for them…”
I hope that sometimes students leave my classroom feeling happy and motivated, comforted and peaceful. But I have also come to see that some days, maybe they need to leave with a healthy sense of fear.
From discipleeducation.wordpress.com. Used with permission.