by Niki Turner
America's pulpits probably overflowed yesterday with Christian metaphors about the dramatic rescue of the thirty-three Chilean miners. No matter how you look at it, the story provides some fabulous sermon fodder.
We've all imagined the horror these men experienced. We've wondered if they would make it out alive. We've considered whether our sanity would remain intact in the same situation. We've prayed for them and for their families. We've groaned at the idea they might not get out until Christmas or later, and we rejoiced when we heard the news that the attempts to reach them were successful.
When the actual rescue began, previously scheduled programs were interrupted and reporters from every major media outlet offered play by play reports about the safety of the men. Some channels created mock-ups of the rescue capsule for their studios to demonstrate its size. (You've gotta love the BBC's comparison to Dr. Who's Tardis time machine!)
|via Wikimedia Commons|
As writers and as Christians, there's a lesson for us in the midst of the international media hullabaloo: Good news and a happy ending captures the world's attention just as well as a negative story or a heart-rending tearjerker. Maybe even better.
"Gospel" is one of those funny Greek words we forgot to translate into English. It literally means "good message" or "good news." We (who've already been rescued) are supposed to be reporters of God's good news to a world that is as trapped in darkness as those miners were last week.
And yet we who have made it to the light seem compelled to spend a lot of time grousing about the bad behavior of our fellow rescuers (or the other miners) or returning to the pit to examine it more thoroughly and gripe about how dark it is and how awful the people who live there are.
Um... Not. Helping.
Since the rescue, the media has jumped on the story of one miner who is returning home to his mistress, instead of to his wife. (In Chile, where divorce is not permitted, this is not an uncommon lifestyle. The men simply move out and start new families, the same way they divorce and remarry here.) Can you imagine the uproar if the rescuers had said, "He's a sinner. Leave him in the hole." Yet how often do we look at a person's sin and decide to exclude them from the Gospel message? Ouch. God didn't do that to us, just like the rescuers didn't leave that dude in the pit.
"It was God [personally present] in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against [men] their trespasses [but canceling them], and committing to us the message of reconciliation (of the restoration to favor)." 2 Cor 5:19 Amplified
Is that the Good News you've heard, that God isn't counting up sins like some bean counter in heaven, making little black marks next to your name every time you blow it? That God likes you so much he opted to erase all your sins and debts and transgressions, and sent Jesus to make sure the contract for your complete redemption was signed and sealed once and for all?
That IS our message - in word, in deed, in music, in poetry or prose. And that good news is the power of God unto salvation. Don't be afraid to share it with somebody, because everyone loves a happy ending.