by David Sisler

The bad news was, the woman had lost her driver’s license and was told she needed a copy of her birth certificate before she could get a replacement license.

The good news was, the records office was in that same building, on that same floor, and she would not have to wait.

The bad news was, the copy of the certificate cost $9.00, and she had only $5.00 cash.

The good news was, they would take a check.

The bad news was, for identification, they needed to see her driver’s license.

How does good news affect the way you view life? What about bad news? Would you be surprised to learn that considerable research is being conducted into the question: "Does good news make people good?"

Here is some of the research.

The first item is almost 35 years old. In the late summer of 1968, researchers dropped wallets on the sidewalks of New York. Within three to five days, 45 percent of those wallets were being returned completely intact.

Then came June 4, 1968, the day Sirhan Sirhan assassinated Senator Robert Kennedy. Not one wallet was returned!

That was the first empirical evidence that a good response in people is directly related to good news.

In a second piece of research groups of 70 volunteers were brought into a room and told an experiment would begin soon. Actually the experiment had already begun. Music from a radio station was piped into the room. It was what teenagers call “elevator music” – background music.

The music was interrupted with a fake news broadcast. The reporter said, “A man owes his life today to an anonymous Good Samaritan. Responding to an appeal for a kidney donor, a clergyman, who prefers not be identified, rushed to the hospital and offered his kidney. The minister even insisted on paying for his own share of the hospital bills.”

A second group of volunteers was exposed to another fake story, this one about an old woman who was raped by a clergyman.

Both groups were given surveys, asking for the participants views of humanity. Those who heard the bad news story had a much lower view of mankind than those who heard the good news story.

There is other research, but these two pieces are sufficient to suggest that good news does make men good. The trouble is, the effect does not last. The change is only temporary. Researchers have learned that the person’s overall view of things remains unchanged in the long run.

Jesus conducted his own experiment in the effects of good news versus bad news. One day he told an audience, “You remind me of a group of children playing. One of the children says, ‘Let’s play wedding,’ and his friends don’t want to play. Then he says, ‘Okay, let’s play funeral,’ and again the friends don’t want to play. ‘We sang a happy song,’ they said, ‘and you wouldn’t dance. Then we sang a sad song and you wouldn’t cry.’”

Jesus said, “Nothing seems to have an effect on you. Not good news. Not bad news. But I will tell you this. If the ancient city of Sodom, you remember how wicked Sodom was – and it was homosexuality, not inhospitality – if Sodom had heard me teach and had seen the miracles God has performed in my ministry, they would have repented. You have remained untouched.”

In some of his sharpest words Jesus said, “John the Baptist played the funeral song and you said he had a demon. I play the wedding song and you say I am glutton, a drunkard and a friend of harlots. You are unmoved by either approach.”

That is the tragedy of good news and bad news. The greatest news of all time is the good news about Jesus Christ. Sadly, not even the Gospel will make a difference in the lives of men and women – unless the men and women who hear the Gospel allow it to get inside of them and change them from the inside out.


Copyright 2002 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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