Alabama Allegations… September 26, 2012

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Alabama is not my “sweet home,” but I have always enjoyed my numerous visits to the state.

It is located on about the third notch of the Bible Belt (even though with me being blubbery, I prefer an elastic waist). As is often the case in many of the communities in our southern regions, people in Alabama go to church a lot, respecting God and country with tremendous personal fervor. So when I arrived with my proclamation that “NoOne is better than anyone else,” I found myself greeted with a small smile, only partially disguising a wince. My Alabamian brothers and sisters immediately offered two allegations to potentially contradict my theorem:

Allegation One: “Jonathan, isn’t the Jewish nation the chosen people? Doesn’t that make them better?”

I would like to introduce each and every one of you–and also re-acquaint myself–with the power of reading the Bible to discover a consensus. Facts are, it is easy to find a single verse in the Bible to back up almost any notion, perversion, lifestyle or inclination. But when you pursue further, you will discover that many other verses not only temper that particular assertion, but sometimes update or flat-out contradict it.

Since we are Christians and not followers of Moses, we have to go to the words of Jesus to find what he thought about this concept of the Children of Israel being “chosen.” Matter of fact, I will guarantee you on this fine morning that the main reason he hung between earth and sky, suspended by nails, was that they did not favor his opinion on their manifest destiny. He told the Jews bluntly that they took “great pride in being the children of Abraham” but that God had every capability of taking a common rock laying beside the road and turning it into a “child of Abraham.” You can imagine, considering the nationalistic pride frothing at the time, that this particular teaching was met with quite a bit of resistance.

We are also clearly informed that God is “no respecter of persons,” so even though there are those who would love to propagate the notion that Israel and the Jews are a chosen people, favored by God, and therefore they are unique by birthright, the general consensus of the Bible, which we call the Word, is that God has opened His door to include everyone equally.

So as not to get a bunch of emails from people suggesting that I am anti-Semitic, I will tell you that I believe that Israel has every right to exist, be respected and honored for her traditions. It’s just that since  the time that Jesus walked the earth, Jewish people are not preferred above Arabs or anyone else.

Allegation Two: “Jonathan, you certainly believe that Billy Graham is better than Charles Manson, right?”

You see, this is the idea that we are unique by salvation. I can always tell when people are desperate to win an argument. They either bring up their pet dog, Hitler or Charles Manson. They mention their pet dog because they want to create sympathy; Hitler, to prove how bad people are, and Charles Manson when they want to convince you that some people are beyond hope.

So let me tell you what I told these fine folks from Alabama. Actually, thief that I am, I borrowed the sentiment from Jesus. Talking one day to a group of gossiping Galileans, he asked them if they thought that the people who had recently been killed by Pilate were worse sinners than those who didn’t die. And after all, we do the same thing. If someone survives a hurricane, we insist that “God was with them,” which, whether we like it or not, connotes that the people who perished were at least secretly somewhat dastardly.

Jesus’ response to his own question about this “worse sinner” possibility was, “Except you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

You see, folks, it’s basically a PR situation–life comes along and the first thing you need to do is participate. It is true that there are greater benefits if you indulge in earthly activities by following the rules, but when you don’t, you get a second crack, which is called repentance. If you repent, you are blessed with a clean slate to participate again with a little bit more wisdom.

It doesn’t matter whether you are Billy Graham or Charles Manson–the same rules apply. Participate and repent. If you don’t choose to participate, don’t expect anything to happen. If you do participate, make a mistake and stubbornly refuse to repent, don’t expect to be able to participate anymore. It’s really that simple.

Many people were shocked when Charles Manson was the murderous propagator of so many slain, innocent people. I, too, was appalled, but I awaited the great miracle of repentance. It never came. So righteously, Charlie-boy doesn’t get to participate anymore.

But honestly, folks, if we found out something bad about Billy Graham tomorrow, most Christians would abandon him. I, instead, would wait for the repentance. And once my dear brother repented, I would welcome him back into the family of man, to participate.

Do I believe that Billy Graham is better than Charles Manson? Not by creation. He gains footing on earth’s soil because he repents–and if he didn’t repent, like Mr. Manson, he would find himself perishing one miserable day at a time, in a tiny jail cell.

So participate, and if you don’t, please understand that nothing will happen. After you participate, take note of the quality of your efforts and repent where stupidity has clearly been pointed out to you. It gives you license to participate again. There is no such thing as “worse sinners.” Just terrible repenters.

So this ended my little excursion into Alabama, where people tried to establish that we are unique by birthright, or, as in the case of Billy Graham, unique by salvation. But after I had a friendly conversation with these lovely folks, I made it clear to them that God is no respecter of persons, and that the key to human life is participating and repenting.

I moved on down the road and landed in Missouri, which they refer to as the “Show Me” State. I was certainly not going to escape their scrutiny with my new-fangled phrase.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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