The Word — Choose the Good

Published 9:00 am Sunday, September 11, 2022

In Mark 1, when Jesus is arriving on the scene as a Jewish miracle-working rabbi, he preaches a simple sermon: “The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15) Something new was happening. God was doing something different, something incredible, and it had the potential to change everything. And that, Jesus said, was good news.

So what did his hearers have to do? They had to repent and believe. They had to make a choice.

You see, the world of Jesus’ day was filled with strife, conflict, and pain. There was oppression and economic turmoil. There were political power plays and leaders who manipulated their empires for personal benefit. There were wars and rumors of wars, disease outbreaks and famines, storms and droughts. There was plenty of bad news going on, and that bad news could leave a person feeling helpless and hopeless.

But that wasn’t the only thing happening. God, the good Creator, was doing something powerful and life-giving. Everyone who heard about it could be part of it. The only thing they had to do was to make a choice: to repent and believe the good news.

Repentance was part of that choice.Repentance is a translation of a word that means “turn away” or “turn back from.”Jesus, like many other rabbis of the day, was encouraging folks to turn away from the bad, the evil, and the exploitative things of the world and turn towards God.It wasn’t always easy, but that was step one – to turn away.

Then, Jesus says, believe.This is a translation of a word that perhaps more fully means “trust.”Trust the good news.Trust that God is doing something good.Trust that the world can be better than it is.Trust that you can be part of that.

If his hearers could make those two choices – to turn away from the bad and to trust the good news Jesus spoke – then, Mark’s Gospel says, there is hope.There is hope for the now, and there is hope for the not yet.There is hope for the present and hope for the future. It’s something that is different than what the bad news says, but it is something that is attainable, that is possible.

I don’t know about you, but I could use some of that sort of hope.

The world around us seems to be filled with news that drags us down, threatens our way of life and even our world.All of the things that were happening then are happening now.I could use some good news.You can, too.And that good news is still there – because the time has still come and the kingdom of God has come near.The question is, will we make the choice to turn away from the bad and trust the good?Will we repent and believe?

REV. DR. J. ADAM TYLER is the Senior Pastor for Farmville Baptist Church and he can be reached by email at pastor@farmvillebaptist.org.