Economic disaster!, Swine flue sweeping through the world!, elected representatives spending tax payers money on duck houses! and Andy Murray Lost the Tennis!!!
You could be forgiven for thinking we were living through the end of the world. I mean pick up a newspaper and if you don’t feel like slitting your wrists you are a stronger person than I am. WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!!! TIME TO PANIC!!! Seems to be the message from the media.
I dabbled (to say studied would be a bit generous given the amount of reading I didn’t do) in economics when I was at university so I am not opposed to listening to the news reports on the credit crunch. The thing that amazes me about the credit crunch is that every piece of good news has to be followed by a disclaimer saying that everything is still awful. The economics reports seem to read like a game of good news bad news (you know the game where someone says something good and the next person has to change it into something bad before the next person changes it back to good and so on). This is the first paragraph of the BBC’s report entitles ‘Worst of the recession is over’.
The worst of the UK’s recession is over, according to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) business group (Good news!!!), but talk of a recovery is premature (Bad news). Its report, based on a survey of 5,600 companies, found there had been “welcome progress” in confidence levels between April and June (Good news). But the BCC still expects unemployment to reach 3.2 million by 2010 (Bad News).And so on …………
I know that they say no news is good news, and lets be honest the Times circulation is hardly going to go through the roof if they stop reporting about wars, famine and disease in place of lots of feel good stories about children who have lost their puppies finding them again, but I wonder if this also shows something a bit deeper about our world.
When Jesus first stood up in a synagogue to tell the world who he was. He used some words that Isaiah the prophet had spoken hundreds of years previously
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, [a]
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn (Isaiah 61:1 & 2)
The people who first heard those words when Isaiah first used them would have thought he was talking about the Jews, who were captives in another land at the time. They thought Isaiah was promising them liberation from their nations struggles.
Similarly there are people around to day who will tell you that if you follow Jesus then you will become rich, that you will never get ill, that you will grow old and happy surrounded by a wonderful family.
That’s not what Isaiah and Jesus were talking about when they used these words. Swine flu will come and go, economic systems will crash, rulers will oppress their subjects. Horrible things will happen in this world and we will get depressed by the newspapers, but there is a day coming when all that will be but a memory.
God promises us a new heaven and a new earth will come into being at the end of the world, but that does not mean the end of the world will be a bed of roses. Warning about the end of the world Jesus said
6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of birth pains.
My point is this, don’t be downcast about the awful things that happen in this world. They are as Jesus calls them ‘the birth pains’, the birth pains of a new, a better world coming into being.
As our society and our world falls apart don’t be alarmed, fix your eyes on what is to come. A better world. A world where God reigns, there will be no sin, no economics, no swine flue, no Daily Mail it will be perfect.
This is what Christianity offers, a world beyond the headlines of today.