Rev. Dr. Billy Burch
The Good News Story
“You are valuable. Your life matters.” I’m serious. Those are not just shallow, feel good, obligatory statements. They are true. True because we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t. True because there is Someone far greater, far wiser, who knows you better than yourself, and who loves you anyway. It’s amazing, but it’s also true.
It all starts with God. Yes, God. It has to. Everything came from Him— the sky, the sea, the animals, the trees, and every human being on this planet both past present and future. It all came from Him. In other words, He is the Creator of it all and He keeps it all running under His overarching plan. He truly holds the universe up with His mighty right hand. And with that same hand, is able to carry you, too, regardless of what life throws at you. He relentlessly pursues you in hopes that you will respond to all His goodness.
But we often don’t. You see, God created humankind with the intent that we would worship Him, giving Him all the credit. He wanted us to wholeheartedly follow Him, that He might bring blessing after blessing. He wanted us to serve Him by serving others, gaining a better understanding of our purpose. But the people He created disregarded that by walking away from him. They thought they knew better than God, choosing their own way. That’s what ‘sin’ means and it has really made a mess of, well, just about everything. This caused a great breach in the relationship people had with God. I guess that means that we, yes, you and I, are part of the problem.
Enter the love of God. Remember the first paragraph? You matter. God loves you anyway. Love, as you know, can’t just stand idle. It is always accompanied by action. Grace is a good word for ‘love in action.’ Act He did! In order to remedy the problem of sin, namely the guilt, He had to figure out a way to remove that guilt.
“I know!” He said. “I will buy it back. Yes, I will redeem the people.”
He established this great plan long before you and I were around. A Son, a King, a Shepherd, a Priest, God in the flesh— yes, Jesus the Christ— would have to pay that ransom. That He did… with His own life. On the cross, bleeding. On the cross, dying. On the cross, paying. He died to take away our sins and place them onto Himself on the cross. Then in the best trade of all time, offered the people His righteousness.
“But He is dead,” you say. “What now?” you say. “That was then, this is now,” you say.
“NO!” I say.
You see, three days later, the tomb that once held the Son of God was found empty. That is true, too. Jesus rose from the dead. Death was child’s play for the power of God. When Jesus rose, He appeared to many proving that He was, indeed, alive. And still is. You see, Jesus ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God— even today, right now!
“But what does that have to do with me?” you say.
You must accept the gift which God offered— His Son Jesus. You do so with a divine tool given to us called faith. Faith is believing with your heart that something is true even if you can’t see it. So you have to admit two things: admit that you, yes even you, sinned; and that you need the forgiveness of Jesus. Once you do that, you simply ask Jesus to come into your heart, your life, to give you a brand new start, a second chance. Then you invite Him to be the King of your life. In doing that, Jesus becomes your leader and forgiver, your Lord and Savior.
But that’s just the beginning. When Jesus comes into our lives, He doesn’t just do so in theory. He does so in Spirit. Yes, the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised that He would send the great Helper to remain along side of us forever. That means God is within us through His Spirit. The Holy Spirit comforts us, leads us into God’s truth, directs our steps, gives us power, enables us to love, fills us with joy, covers us with peace. We can then patiently do the will of God, showing kindness and goodness to others, and living a life of gentleness and self-control.
There is one more thing important to mention here. God, in His grace, gave us a Book. It is unlike any other book ever written. Some might say its like a storybook, telling us about the great King who left His Kingdom to save the people. Some might say its like an instruction book, telling us who we are and what makes us tick (and break). Some might say its like a love letter, telling us how dearly we are adored. We know it as the Bible. This book, the Bible, introduces us to this great God of justice and mercy. It opens us up to the realities deep inside ourselves, motives and all. It shows us the brokenness of this world and how to navigate through even the worst of times. It gives practical answers to perplexing problems. God’s Word, the Bible, invites, commands, changes, rebukes, comforts, directs— but doesn’t force. We have to choose to live by it. We have to enter into the conversation.
This conversation, this relationship lasts forever. The time will come when all of us will die. That can be very scary. But knowing what happens when we pass from this earth makes all the difference. Believer in Jesus, you will be with God forever with all the believers who have gone before you, and especially with your Savior Jesus. Furthermore, God promises that when this tired and worn out earth comes to an end, He will make a brand new earth and a brand new heaven with it. No more pain, abandonment, lies, discouragement, disillusionment, depression, death. No more loneliness, self-loathing, failure, sin. In essence, no more brokenness and darkness. God will be the light. That is heaven and it will be amazing…
But for now, go out and fulfill your purpose for being here: love God and love people. Deeply. With everything you have. That’s your purpose and if you act upon it, it will change your life. And the lives of those around you. For now, spend time with God in prayer, telling Him what you need and thanking Him for what He has done for you. Live with a freedom that comes with perfect love. Live for Jesus in gratitude of what He has done for you. See the hand of God in your life. Love big. Trust big. And bring as many along as you possibly can.