One day a man stopped by an apartment building to visit a long-time friend of his, an older woman named Mabel who was a music teacher. He greeted her by saying, “Hey, Mabel, what’s the good news today?” Mabel stood up, silently walked across the room, picked up a small hammer, and struck a tuning fork, causing a note to ring out through the apartment. Then she said, “That note is an A. It is an A today, it was an A five thousand years ago, and it will be an A ten thousand years from now. The soprano upstairs sings off-key, the tenor across the hall goes flat on his high notes, and the piano down in the front lobby needs tuning—but,” said Mabel as she struck the tuning fork again, “none of that matters, because this note is forever an A. That, my friend, is the good news for today” (Michael Green, 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, p. 389).
Having something we can count on, something that won’t suddenly change and catch us off-guard, is good news—but you wouldn’t think so, based on the way many people in our society act today. For instance, some years ago a psychologist in Seattle got into big trouble for speaking the truth. A patient approached him and asked his opinion on her upcoming abortion. As a Christian and a man of honor, he felt he had to answer her question honestly—namely, that having an abortion is psychologically harmful and morally wrong. As a result, the Washington State Examining Board ruled that he had acted incompetently and had committed malpractice; this psychologist was fined $1500 just for being honest, placed on a year’s probation, and required to take a series of ethics courses (Right to Life newsletter, December 1996). In regard to many different subjects, our society seems increasingly determined to ignore or rewrite the truth and to punish those who dare proclaim it. Nevertheless, God’s unchanging word cannot be silenced and His voice cannot be drowned out or shouted down. He wants to know if we are on His side—and this is the most important choice we will ever make.
I can’t help but think that if those from biblical times gave their messages in our current society, they’d cause a lot of controversy and get themselves into big trouble. Ezra the priest would be denounced for imposing his religious values on others by reading the Law aloud to the people; the fact that some were weeping as they heard him reading would be cited as proof that he was mean-spirited and judgmental. St. Paul would likely be sued for discrimination for his claim that not all parts of the body are alike and that not all members of the Church have the same calling; this politically incorrect statement would be seen as placing unacceptable restrictions on human freedom and choice. Jesus would be criticized for mixing religion and politics, due to His reference to proclaiming liberty to captives, and He’d be denounced as sexist for daring to preach in a synagogue where women were not allowed to speak and were seated behind the men. Persons whose sins are going to be revealed by the truth will do anything to change the subject, even to the point of attacking and demonizing those who are lovingly trying to share God’s saving word with them. Jesus did everything foretold by the Scripture passage He read aloud in the synagogue. He shared the good news of God’s Kingdom with the poor, He restored sight to the blind, and He offered freedom to those imprisoned in sin. His reward was to be arrested and condemned, mocked and scourged, rejected, and then put to death as a criminal. That’s how the world tends to treat people who will not compromise on the truth—and that’s why Satan and his worldly followers are destined to fail. Death could not contain Jesus; hatred could not conquer love; fear could not silence the truth.
A Catholic philosopher named Etienne Gilson once wrote, “It is not hard to find the truth. What is hard is not to run away from it once you have found it.” Running away from the truth is exactly what our society has been trying to do since at least 1973, when abortion was in effect legalized by the U.S. Supreme Court. There’s never been any honest scientific doubt that human life begins at conception; those who promote abortion know the medical facts aren’t on their side, so they have to confuse the issue, use misleading terms like “reproductive choice,” and viciously smear or attack their opponents. Abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, genetic engineering, cloning, and other assaults against God’s unique authority over human life may temporarily appear successful—but because they are all rooted in a lie, they will not prevail. On the day of judgment when God’s authority is finally acknowledged by everyone, we will each have to confront the truth in a personal way: did we live in a manner consistent with our Christian faith, and did we do our part to defend and promote the Lord’s truth?
Christians are called to follow the example of Jesus by bringing good news to the world—and it’s still good news even if the world doesn’t want to hear it. The “glad tidings to the poor” and the lowly which Jesus mentions in the Gospel surely includes, among other things, the message that the defenseless unborn, the helpless elderly, the physically disabled and intellectually challenged, the mentally ill, and all others unable to care for themselves, are valuable and important in God’s eyes. You and I must do our part to share this truth with society!
Just as it’s impossible to create or enjoy real music if the sounds of the notes keep changing in an unpredictable pattern, so it’s impossible to be truly and fully human unless our values are rooted in something more substantial and unchanging than our own whims and desires. An A will never turn into another note; it will always be an A—and as Mabel said, that’s good news. God’s word is infinitely more powerful and unchanging—and the truth of His immeasurable love for every single human being is the only solid foundation on which to build our lives.