How Is God Good News?

Every sermon gets better when the preacher must leave good material on the cutting room floor. In the final stages of editing my notes on Isaiah 40 last week, I slashed a whole section that I still really want you to think about! So here it is…

You may recall the scene from Isaiah 40:9 where a herald of good news is sent up on a high mountain with a message of comfort for all God’s people: “Look! It’s God!” It’s the gospel in three words, and it’s as puzzling as it is exciting. God is the gospel?!

“God = good news” seems so abstract and, perhaps for some, even incoherent. Even many who are trusting Jesus as their Savior and Advocate before the Father are still intimidated at the thought of seeing God. How is this good news?

If only we could catch a glimpse of heaven. You can learn a lot about a person by seeing what His home is like. Maybe if we could see that heaven isn’t a strict, severe, tedious, well-behaved, churchy place. Maybe if we could see that God’s home is a happy one, full of fun and freedom. Maybe if we knew how serious God is about joy. Maybe then we’d believe that God is the gospel.

I love how C. S. Lewis puts it: “I do not think that the life of Heaven bears any analogy to play or dance in respect of frivolity. I do think that while we are in this ‘valley of tears,’ cursed with labor, hemmed round with necessities, tripped up with frustrations, doomed to perpetual plannings, puzzlings, and anxieties, certain qualities that must belong to the celestial condition have no chance to get through, can project no image of themselves, except in activities which, for us here and now, are frivolous. For surely we must suppose the life of the blessed to be an end in itself, indeed The End… No, Malcolm. It is only in our ‘hours-off,’ only in our moments of permitted festivity, that we find an analogy. Dance and game are frivolous, unimportant down here; for ‘down here’ is not their natural place. Here, they are a moment’s rest from the life we were placed here to live. But in this world everything is upside down. That which, if it could be prolonged here, would be a truancy, is likest that which in a better country is the End of ends. Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” (Letters to Malcolm),