Good News is the heart of Christianity — not good advice, not good rules, but Good News, the declaration that something breathtaking and life-saving has happened for us. That’s how Christianity has spread all over the world: as Good News to be freely shared, not religious fortune-cookie wisdom to be greedily sold. Only a couple of decades after Jesus was laid in a tomb and stood up again, a man named Paul carried that Good News to a city called Corinth. He taught and preached to any and all who would attune their ears to his frequency — and many in Corinth were in tune! He spent two years there, sharing the Good News and guiding the community of people there who had believed in it, and then he left and continued on to other towns and cities to tell other people the Good News. Unfortunately, after a few years had passed, issues began springing up in the Corinthian church like moles in a game of Whack-A-Mole — all because, it seemed, they’d forgotten the heart of the Good News that Paul had told them, and they’d gone back into living just like they had before they’d received it:
The Good News Amnesia of the Corinthians caused such concern to Paul that he felt it necessary to warn the Corinthians with a sense of urgency and alarm that, if they continued to live as if the Good News wasn’t true, they might as well have never heard it or believed it in the first place. So, in a final run of hope, he rehearses once more the main story of the Good News:
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born” (1 Corinthians 15:3–8).
That all certainly sounds like “news,” to be certain: a man returning to life from the dead today, with hundreds of people claiming to see him risen from the dead, would still make the headlines of any news network and would trend all over social media. But, what makes Jesus’ standing up to life again not just “news,” but Good News, is that when he died and was laid to rest in a tomb, he died for our sins: he died to pay the penalty for our violations of our relationship with God, for our violations of the boundary lines he had set for us - the very violations that opened the door for death to enter into our world. It was ruin of our own doing, but Christ came to wipe away our ruin through his death and resurrection. He died for our sins just as the Bible said, was laid to rest in a tomb, was raised to life again on the third day just as the Bible said, and was witnessed with his physical body by over 500 people, confirming the scandalous report of the Good News.
Jesus stood up again after death so that we could too, and even now we stand and center our lives on that Good News — available to any and all! Even to men like Paul who, before hearing the Good News, hated Jesus and his followers with an unrivaled fury that drove him to hunt down — and participate in the murder of — Christians. Even Paul was not so far gone that he could not believe the Good News. Neither then are we.