The Good News for Lansing

December 27, 2015

A few years ago, a friend of mine asked me (and 40 or so of his other friends) to write a letter as if we were writing to our local newspaper on the topic of The Good News.  This was an Easter project, but I figured it would be worth bringing back as a Christmas post this year.

Here is what I wrote:

I am writing this at an altitude of 37,000 feet, hurdling at 530 MPH away from my home in Lansing, Michigan. But even as I fly, I know that Michigan is coming with me. In fact, I can already hear the conversation I will have a dozen or so times over the next couple days:

“So, where are you from?”

“Lansing, Michigan.”

“Oh…wow…how are you guys holding up?”

It seems everybody has a foreboding tone when they talk about Michigan, whether they live here and have experienced the 12% unemployment rate first hand or they have read about the potential for General Motors to go “belly-up” (I can’t even tell you how many times I have heard that phrase used). It’s almost no wonder that nearly half of the graduates from Michigan State University make a beeline out of the state minutes after they graduate, taking their educations and Michigan’s hopes for renewal with them.

I recently read the words of a wise man who lived thousands of years ago. He could have been writing about Michigan when he looked at the world around him and declared, “Everything is meaningless…utterly meaningless.”

And as someone who grew up in Michigan, I can honestly say it’s felt that way here for a very long time. If there is one word I would use to describe the mood of this state, it’s “pessimistic.”

But oddly, I am optimistic. I am hopeful.

About the state of the economy? No, not really. About the future of the auto-industry? I’m on the fence on that one, too.

I have hope because something huge is planted inside my heart: eternity. The same wise man who spoke about the meaninglessness of everything wrote that part of the problem is that we are finite beings with infinite hearts. We can’t see the whole scope of all that is going on in this world from beginning to end, but we long to understand. We long for something that makes sense. We long for good news.

And that brings me to the source of my optimism and hope: Jesus.

Nearly two millenia ago, Jesus revealed himself as the architect of the world spinning outside my airplane window and the future architect of a new world where all that has seemed meaningless will have meaning. Jesus not only has eternity in his heart, he has it in his grasp. He can see from beginning to end.

But I can’t.

Because of my rebellion against his perfect will, my view is limited and I am part of the problem–we are all part of the problem.

But this is where hope steps into the picture. Jesus lived a perfect life and yet he was brutally executed as if he was part of the problem, too. And that execution, along with his miraculous resurrection from the dead became the solution once and for all. And from the first century until today, Jesus’ people have set about to bring this good news to the world, to become part of the solution. We set about to work against the pessimistic tide of our culture. We proclaim a hope that while things may seem meaningless, it’s only because we can’t see the beginning and the end. And we know that the solution starts with acknowledging a God who has eternity in his grasp.

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