I have a picture on the desktop of my computer. It is a bittersweet picture. It is a picture of my mom in the final days of her life on this earth. My mom passed away in January of this year, her body finally defeated by cancer. Before she passed, I was able to visit her one last time, and had the joy of having not only Kristen with me, but also my daughter Anna and my grandson Warren. So, mom was able to meet her great-grandson before she died. It was a sweet moment that we captured in a picture and now can look back on with fondness. In the picture are my mom, me, Anna and Warren. My mom, in her hospital bed with an oxygen tube under her nose, is smiling. I am smiling. Anna is smiling. Even Warren is smiling. The picture captures the reality that in this life there is pleasure and there is pain. There is joy and there is grief. There is laughter and there is sadness. We live in a broken world, and yet a world that still echoes glory. We live in a world in which we cannot deny that things are not as they should be.
Back before time began, before the earth or anything else in all of creation existed, God spoke. As God spoke, some amazing things began to happen: light, life, day, night, stars, moon, sun, mountains, oceans, trees, plants, animals, fish, birds, and finally man and woman all came into being. Out of darkness and void, God created order and life, and it was good. All of creation perfectly reflected the glory of its Creator. And man and woman, the only creations made in the image of God, ruled over God’s creation as His image bearers. There was perfect Shalom, perfect harmony, and perfect peace. God dwelt with man and woman, and they enjoyed unhindered fellowship with Him. It was good. In fact, life had never been better, for it was as God intended.
Then something terrible happened. Death, pain, separation, suffering, injustice, corruption, and evil of all sorts entered into the world. How? Man was deceived. He believed the lies of the devil, Satan, the great enemy of God, once a great angelic being who turned against God and desired for himself the throne of God and the worship due only to God. He believed lies about the character and the word of God. Man began to worship himself, the creation, rather than the Creator. He rebelled, and disobeyed. He sinned, and has ever since been a sinner. His sin, as the image bearer of the Creator, infected all of creation. Like an aggressive cancer that corrupts and destroys, sin permeated all of creation. Man, beast, and the very rocks and hills in which they dwelled were affected. This is the world that you and I know—a world with glimpses of beauty and goodness, hope and life, but ultimately descending into chaos.
And yet the Creator, the almighty God, the everlasting Father, Son, and Spirit, immediately began working out a plan to redeem, recreate, restore, and renew. He gave us a promise of One to come: like man, yet perfect. This One could take upon Himself the curse of death, yet overcome the sting of this curse and lead His followers in victory and freedom. The promise was long-anticipated and often-repeated. The promise was pictured in history, and in people, and in a nation, and finally was fulfilled. In a surprising, almost hidden way, the promised One came to His own. This One, the centerpiece of all of human history and hope, came and fulfilled His task perfectly. In so doing, He undid the deeds of darkness and brought life and hope to all whom He calls to Himself. And as He calls, He also sends. Those He redeems, freeing from the shackles of sin and death, He sends to carry the message of this good news, while empowering them once again with the very presence of Himself among His people. When His work on this earth was done, He ascended back once again to the glory from which He came, waiting until the day when He will return in the glory of His Father with the holy angels, to judge the living and the dead and to save those who are eagerly awaiting His return. He will at that time make all things new, ushering in an eternal kingdom, a new heaven and new earth, like that time long ago when there was perfect Shalom in the presence of God, never again to be broken by the curse of sin and death.
This story is the grand story found throughout the pages of your Bible. It is the story we are living in today. This world is not as it should be. Indeed, there remain beauty and goodness, joys and delights, love and laughter, yet everything and everyone is tinged with the dark hue of sin. As we look at the world, we cannot deny that things are not as they should be.
So, we have a great story to tell. The problem is, many of us are not telling it, or we are telling it poorly. Evangelism is telling a story—telling a story of good news. In order to tell a story well, we have to know it well, believe it, make it personal, and tell it with conviction. These are things that should be true any time we share the good news of Jesus Christ with someone. We should tell the story of Jesus well, like we really believe it, sharing how it has related to us personally, and how it can relate personally to the listener, and tell it with conviction as if life and death and matters of eternal consequence really are in play.