Time to spread the good news

Published 10:10 pm Saturday, December 24, 2011

One of the surprising and uplifting things I’ve experienced as editor of my hometown newspaper is the opportunity I’ve had to speak in front of a variety of groups.

For one of those recent speeches, I did a little bit of research into the history of news. I wanted to know how folks learned about what was happening in their communities during the first century. Clearly, there was no television, many centuries would pass before the printing press would be invented, and most folks couldn’t read, anyway, so how did they find out what was happening across town, not to mention across the continent?

The answer was pretty obvious: Word of mouth was the usual way of spreading news, followed by letters and pronouncements sent from one group of people to another and shared in public gatherings.

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Anyone familiar with biblical history, for example, will recognize that the apostles first went out into the world sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ person to person. Only after it was clear that His promised second coming might not be as immediate as they’d hoped did they begin to write down His words and share them in letters between one another and then with the greater world.

In fact, face to face is the way the amazing news of Christ was first shared, as shepherds caring for their flocks outside of Bethlehem one night about 2,000 years ago were confronted in the wee hours by an angel proclaiming, according to Luke 2:10, “good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”

After they visited the child the angels had told them they’d find lying in a manger, the first thing those shepherds did was to go out and spread the word — and you can be sure they did so face to face, speaking to friends and relatives, neighbors and even strangers about the incredible things they’d seen and heard that night. I wonder, in fact, whether they ever got back to those sheep.

Ever since that holy night in Bethlehem, the gift that mankind received then — the grace of Jesus Christ, the unmerited favor of the King of Kings — is a gift that we’ve been meant to share face to face, person to person.

I’m blessed with the opportunity to share my faith pretty regularly via these columns, but my words gain true power when folks can see me and know the life-changing experience I’ve had through Christ.

I wonder how things might have been different if our technology had been available to those shepherds. Would they have sent a group email about their encounter with the King? Would they have updated their Facebook status with a catchy message or two? Maybe they would have texted a few friends?

Maybe they’d have done all of those things. But I imagine with such momentous news as they had to share that night, they’d also have been knocking on doors and perhaps even shouting from the town square, repeating the angels’ refrain: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:14)

If you’re a follower of that child whose sacrifice one day would be completed on a cross and whose victory would follow with His resurrection and an empty tomb, go out today and give the very best gift you can give: Tell someone about Him.

Merry Christmas.