Blame the Name … December 15, 2011


Live from Palm Coast, Florida, in A Spirited Christmas

Yesterday I received an email from a lady. She forwarded correspondence which had been sent to her by a minister in her church, expressing some misgivings about her actions. She was an employee of the congregation and he shared with her that unless she changed some of her business approaches, she would need to resign. Honestly, I did not know all the details nor did I have a desire to wade into the conflict between two private individuals. Maybe he was right; maybe she was right. I don’t know.
She was seeking comfort, wanted support–and candidly, I lacked the information to contribute much of anything. But one thing did disturb me about the letter sent by the minister. It was a personal note of rebuke about a business performance which ended with the salutation, “In Christ.” Then he added his name.
It put me in a bad mood. I do not see anything wrong with an employer rebuking an employee; nor am I choosing the side of the victim over the victor. What disgusted me was that such a piece of trivial business–an inter-office conflict–was reinforced as if it were “in the name of Jesus.” 
I am tired of politicians, religionists and business people blaming the name of God for their own opinions, prejudices or decisions. Can we do this? Let’s leave Jesus out of our squabbles–especially when we insist on using his title, “Christ,” instead of the name he so proudly wore when he was adorned in human skin.
“In Christ” at the close of a fussy note infuriates me. So you don’t like the woman. Maybe you think she’s incompetent. Perhaps it is even necessary for her to leave your organization. Don’t do it in Christ’s name. The fact that you would close a correspondence with the name of the Prince of Peace makes me suspicious of the quality of your intellect or the integrity of your soul.
We must stop using the name of Jesus to give heft to our personal choices.
  • I have many opinions. I am not certain that any of them would be shared by Jesus.
  • I have prejudices. A quick glance through the book tells me that he does not agree with some of my choices.
  • I have doctrines. Of all the people who ever lived, Jesus was certainly a teacher who avoided legalism in favor of liberty of spirit.
  • I have preferences. Hat’s off to me–as long as I don’t put the hat of MY predilection on the head of Christ.
 Someone must stop this madness. The fact that this minister closed his note with “In Christ” nearly convinced me that he was in the wrong and that she was the innocent party. Obviously, that’s erroneous. But if we do not stop blaming the name of Jesus for every little quirk in our personalities, we soon will have “cried wolf” one too many times, and the name will lose its power. Right now Jesus still carries the reputation of an empathetic human savior who loved people and cared for their needs. But if politics, religion and corporations have their way, we will soon taint his name and stain his reputation with our temporary whims and uncertain solutions.
Let me be the first one to say it:  I don’t know God’s will.  Folks tell me you can find it in the Bible–but having read the book several times, I will tell you that what they read into it often is not there. What I know to be true is that I have many ideas which are changing, based upon my ever-growing experience of journeying through life–and the only thing I do know for sure about Jesus is that he wants me to “love my neighbor as myself” and that “what I measure out to others will be measured back to me.”
Do you hear what I’m saying? That minister who closed his memo with “In Christ” to that woman has just guaranteed himself an equally nasty note in the future from a dominant individual, threatening him with expulsion in the name of a deity.
Not for me, folks.
Honestly, I will tell you that my jonathots are filled with my opinions. They are probably laced with my prejudices. And they are certainly limited by my intellect. But I will NEVER lead you to believe that they are direct messages from Jesus, the Christ or the Eternal God.  Be smart. Qualify what you believe and what you say by using your own name–and not the signature of someone who came to seek and save those who were lost.
It’s really quite simple. If my minister friend had closed his letter with, “Yours,” “Sincerely yours,” or even “I’m pissed off”… it would be just fine. Signing off “In Christ” brings too much weight to bear–without the authority to lift the load.
Stop blaming the name. Take responsibility for what you think–and if it’s any good at all, let God endorse it through the fruit that’s born.
 At least … that’s my understanding.


Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!


To see books written by Jonathan, click the link below! You can peruse and order if you like!

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