Bad News, Good News - A Tale of Two Lone Star States



For me, this week has been dominated by 2 news stories emanating from 2 states with similar, but not identical flags…
Being a Liverpool fan, much of my week was marked by the ups and downs of the attempts to oust former owners Hicks and Gillett and sell the club to the Boston Redsox owner John Henry and his NESV consortium... I know that exchanging one American owner for another may seem like a frying-pan/fire situation, but I'm also a Redsox fan and I like what they did there, and anyway, nothing could be worse than the gruesome twosome. However, to wake up on Thursday morning hearing that Tom Hicks had taken out an injunction in a Texas court against the sale of the club, raised in me an unbelievable antipathy to the so-called Lone Star State… Thankfully by the end of the next day the injunction had been lifted and the deal with NESV was done, but it was not a good way to start the day…
It stood in huge contrast to how the previous day began, with much celebratory waving of a similar, though not identical flag to that of Texas, as the Chilean mine rescue came to its emotional climax. By the time I awoke 4 had already been brought to the surface, and I watched through watering eyes as the fifth and youngest of the miners stepped out of the so called Phoenix rescue capsule... I tuned in periodically throughout the day to see many of the others come to the surface too... all of them wearing T-shirts bearing the name of Jesus…
Rarely has one story captivated the media for so long… particularly given that it was a good news story… However, the only problem I’ve had with the whole thing is the sense of some hi-jacking the story for their own ends… Lot’s of people have supported the effort, but I believe firmly in the Biblical principle of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing… so I’ve found some of what is almost “product placement” in the rescue a little distasteful, be it Schramm and their drilling machine, or Oakley who ‘donated’ the wrap-around sunglasses which the miners had to wear emerging into daylight…
But actually in the light of this good news story, I was also slightly disappointed in some of those who claim to be purveyors of the good news of Jesus Christ. During the week the Guardian reported tensions between different Christian traditions, particularly between some evangelicals, the Seventh Day Adventists and Roman Catholics, over who had played the most significant pastoral role and whose prayers were most effective. OK so the Guardian isn’t always sympathetic in matters of faith, but I had previously noticed this jockeying for position myself… Personally I was simply delighted that people of all denominations were united in their prayers for the rescue of the miners… Indeed that people of all faiths and none each played their part in being an answer to those prayers… It was wonderful to see many of those coming to the surface collapsing to their knees in a prayer of thanksgiving to God… he deserves all the glory, but he worked through the determination and expertise of a huge range of people all across this world to bring this good news story to its completion… My friend David Porter has focused on the question of prayer and this rescue in more detail on his blog...
Another friend, Glenn Jordan, has turned his spotlight on another dimension of this story, which I would also make my final plea... PLEASE TAKE THIS STORY IN ITS OWN RIGHT!!!


Lets give thanks to God for what has happened… but lets not use it as a glib illustration of the gospel, the good news that can be ours through Christ, with easy talk of release from the pit etc. I was surprised to find that the Independent on Sunday was the only paper this morning to refer to the rescue on their front page, and that they did so under the headline "Resurrection! - This weekend at least the world seems a better place." If national papers choose to use Biblical language (especially and surprisingly the Independent) all well and good, but for Christian apologists to use this story too simplistically (and too swiftly - the first Christian comments were on my facebook page within minutes of the first rescue) smacks of spiritual product placement and to a large extent devalues both the amazing events of this week and the gospel itself…


I have no doubt that, with time, this story will appear in anthologies of sermon illustrations, and with time that may be legitimate, but as Glenn wrote on his blog



“These real people are not worms for your sermon hooks.”
This good news story is cause for celebration in its own right…


As for God’s good news… well, the only sermon illustration we ever need was the life, death and resurrection of his son.

(This is an adaptation of this morning's "Review of the Week" for Downtown Radio's "Dawn Reflections")



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