Last week, a new Kroger Marketplace opened in our town of 12,000. It’s sort of a mini-version of Wal-Mart or Meijer: a grocery store (with all sorts of interesting extras like a sushi bar, a bistro, a large selection of coffee beans to grind, odd produce that you only hear about on those Iron Chef cooking shows, and huge sections for Hispanic and Asian palates) PLUS departments for furniture, clothing, toys, office supplies, etc.
It’s a monster store, with over 2 acres of merchandise under roof. This Marketplace is the second largest in the Kroger chain and the largest in the Louisville metro area. It is designed to be a destination that provides all you might need—and even some stuff you hadn’t given a thought to needing.
So needless to say, it has created quite a stir in our town. The grand opening was jam-packed. Lots of conversations over the past week have begun with “Have you been to the new Kroger yet?” — followed by a description of the contents of the store and what’s most interesting about it.
Kroger has created a buzz.
Yesterday, the University of Kentucky Wildcats (full disclosure: my life-long team) defeated the North Carolina Tar Heels to earn a berth in the NCAA Division 1 Final Four in Houston. This is our first trip since we last won the title in 1998.
There was a lot of cheering and screaming and dancing in the streets last night. It felt good to be in the championship picture again. People who have never even bounced a basketball feel a sense of “we did it!”, and join in the victory as if they were on the court the whole time.
This morning when I went to the fitness center where I work out, there was a palpable difference in the atmosphere. People running, lifting weights and stair-mastering early in the morning aren’t usually chatty, but today was different.
People were laughing and high-fiving. They were chattering about the performances of Harrison or Liggins or Knight; about what Jay Bilas or Dick Vitale predicted; about what time the game is scheduled to be on television. (Some Louisville fans even got in the mix!)
Kentucky created a buzz.
Both events made headlines and lead the news. I have participated in and enjoyed the buzz in our town this week. It’s been fun.
And then I have to wonder. What if all that buzz was about another kind of news—the gospel ( good news) of Jesus? About the depth of his love and mercy that comes to us in our storms and our brokenness. About the forgiveness that wipes our record clean so we can breathe easy and guilt-free. About the freedom that comes when he cuts the chains that have bound a life for years. About the compassion that steps into the knee-high mess of our lives without gagging. About the life that is more than existence, but a joyful dance of purpose with our Eternal King.
One of the Bible’s words for “preach” is kerusso, a Greek word that means ” to announce or herald”. It has the sense of the loud voice of a town crier or of an announcement by an envoy of a King.
Tim Keller writes,
“Gospel means ‘news that brings joy….It meant history-making, life-shaping news, as opposed to just daily news…The gospel was news of some event that changed things in a meaningful way….The essence of other religions is advice; Christianity is essentially news…’This is what has been done in history. This is how Jesus lived and died to earn the way to God for you’…The gospel is that God connect to you not on the basis of what you’ve done (or haven’t done), but on the basis of what Jesus has done, in history, for you. (King’s Cross, p. 14-16)
That news changes everything.
Jesus’ good news really could provide all you need forever—including quite a few things you’ve never thought of that you desperately need
Jesus’ good news gives you access to a victory won for you by Another, so that you win and bask in the joy of that moment forever.
That good news could create quite a buzz.
And then I wonder…who could start that buzz in our town? Who would start the gospel buzz around here?
Like I said, just some random thoughts…that I can’t escape.