How can the kingdom of God be good news to those who don’t believe?

I'm an atheist

Last post I examined how Jesus said he came to establish the kingdom of God on earth, and that was good news for us.

But how can this be good news for those who don’t believe? Aren’t they totally missing out?

The good news according to Jesus

According to Jesus, the kingdom of God would see changes in the way things happen on earth, good things that would continue into the age to come.

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Luke 4:18-19

While we may see spiritual blindness and oppression included here, there is no doubt that Jesus (and Isaiah whom he was quoting) would have seen physical freedom and healing too.

Good news for all?

Freedom, healing and God’s favour are now available to all who want to receive them. But even those who don’t believe may receive blessings ….

The salt of the earth?

We christians are supposed to be like salt, in the ancient world representing purity, preservative and flavour. So we are supposed to make a positive difference in the society in which we live.

We all know that, in the hands of the greedy and ambitious, christianity has been used to justify evil. But studies show that individual christians contribute positively to society and the world in many ways. Christians run hospitals in poor countries, care for the marginalised all over the world, provide compassionate aged care, fund small business and agriculture projects that assist the poor to become self-sufficient and work hard to establish social justice for the underprivileged and helpless.

These two non-believing reporters note the beneficial influence of christians in Great Britain and Africa.

The challenge for us all, then, is to live in the way Jesus asks us to, so that even non-believers will see that our gospel is good news.for everyone.

The good guys win in the end

In the old days, most movies saw the good guys winning in the end. Justice and truth triumphed over evil.

The world is an unequal place, and the rich and powerful have almost always oppressed the rest. The oppression these days may more often be economic than physical but it is still real. But Jesus will one day judge the world and rid it of evil. Evil-doers will not get away with it forever.

We should live in ways that reflect this. We should speak up on behalf of those who have no voice and stand with the oppressed. And christians have often done this (e.g. William Wilberforce’s opposition to slavery). There are many opportunities to do it still, and if we do, this will also be good news for most of the world.

We don’t know the end of the story

We sometimes like to think we know how it will all turn out in the end – how God will sort things out, how he will judge the human race, and who will live on in the age to come and who will miss out.

But the reality is that we know very little. God’s grace is limitless, and we cannot know who will be encompassed by it. The coming, death and resurrection of Jesus may be good news to more than we imagine.

Watching ourselves

The gospel of Jesus calls us to show love and compassion in practical ways. If we made this our purpose instead of being judgmental and diffident, the kingdom of God would indeed be good news even to those who do not take up Jesus’ offer of life in the age to come – and may even lead to many more accepting the offer.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Galatians 6:9

Photo Credit: Anosmia via Compfight cc

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