There is a difference between our current culture, and the people described in Mark Chapter 1. People today do not expect God to intervene in their personal lives, nor do they expect God or Jesus to suddenly appear in the sky and kick their oppressors to hell and bring his faithful into a new kingdom of peace and justice. We have become un-apocalyptic as a culture, in spite of social media’s trending of fake stories about zombies, ebola, and the muslims in burkas. The hope that underlays Jesus (and John the Baptist’s) message is that God’s kingdom is near.
It is good news, however, to know that God is at hand, literally as close as our fingers. He refuses to allow our apathy, or our secret sins, to chase him away. The good news is this loving presence that is simply there. I spent the past few days in Big Bend National Park — a place of impressive silence. When the sun sets behind the mountains, and another day ends in peace, having been spent distant from cell phone reception, TV, and traffic, it is hard to ignore the quiet one at my side. The conversation on the lodge porch is in whispers. Everyone seems mindful of an ineffable spiritual presence.
It is also good news that when God eventually sweeps our current hurry-hurry culture away, we will have an eternity to do what is important, worship. When God sends Jesus again, the many injustices of our politically divided minefield of a planet, will be righted. Multitudes will weep for joy. We will be ashamed at how many of these wrongs we simply accepted or promoted. But, God, and those we have wronged, will forgive. So, it will be good news.