Good News and Better News … January 1st, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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“When life gives you lemons…”

Hold out for some nice oranges. See if you can’t pick up some fresh strawberries. Even some marked-down bananas would be better. Lemons need too much sugar to be drinkable–and often still end up tart.

It was my deep, abiding pleasure and joy to begin our 2018 tour across this great nation by sharing my heart at Saint Andrews United Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

It is ably and gently pastored by an open-faced and friendly brother named Brad. He sent along Jim, Chris and David to help us set up on Saturday, and they all treated us like kings instead of the vagabonds we be.

As I sat behind my keyboard before the service began and watched the congregation gathering, my heart was ablaze with the blessing of contentment. Even though I have lived for a decent season on Earth, I am still jubilant and optimistic over the possibilities of seeing humanity achieve its better potential by negating the available lemons and shopping for more fruitful possibilities.

And the lemons are available.

So my message to all I will encounter this year will be very simple:

  • Stop believing that lying is acceptable.
  • Mean is not and never will be good.
  • And prejudice is not common–just prevalent.

Once we accept these lemons, attempting to sweeten them, we can find ourselves frustrated and stuck with a drink that is still sour. Why? Because it’s got lemons in it.

So stop accepting the social lemons that make us believe we are trapped in our humanity instead of blessed by God to revel in it.

The command for this year is monumental: We will be kind to those of our own kind.

Of course, I’m talking about people. You may feel free to enjoy your pets, you can admire the wonders of nature, you can insist that you have the loveliest home in town, but we will be evaluated on how kind we are to our own kind.

The good news is, Saint Andrews has got the message.

The better news is, they don’t have to make lemonade.

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Jesonian … December 2nd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Whenever you’ve done it to the least of these, my brethren, you’ve done it to me.

This seems to be one of those idealistic, philosophical utterances of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount. Most people nod their heads in agreement, while secretly pre-repenting over not doing it.

But it is not a statement.

It’s a puzzle–a riddle.

It’s an intertwining ball of confusion leading us to a universal realization.

First of all, let us understand that Jesus, who walked with equality among Jew, Greek, Roman and Samaritan, did not believe that anyone was “the least.” So him phrasing the word “least” was ironic rather than iconic.

Since he didn’t believe anybody was the least, we are given a bit of misdirection. Jesus was suggesting that we, as humans, are obsessed with subjectively examining those around us, with the goal of finding our level of superiority.

Because we don’t want to hunger and thirst for righteousness, we live off the fat of our own arrogance. In other words, “I am better than you because I say that I’m better than you–and everyone in our clan believes we are better.”

Nowadays we pass this prejudice off as culture, or loving our family, or appreciating our home town. It’s the Red States saying they are more righteous than the Blue States, and the Blue States claiming the Red States are imbeciles.

There are no least.

So Jesus traps us in the maze: “Since you think these people are least, then you need to realize they are me, and the only place you will find me is in them. I will not be available to you in your favored few. You will only be able to discover me in those you deem least.”

So if you think black people look like monkeys, if you want to find Jesus you’d better show up with some bananas–because he will situate himself right in the middle of the black race and evaluate you on how you treat them.

If you think women are weaker vessels and stupid, Jesus will grow a vagina. Yes, Christ will only be accessible to you through the female.

If you think gay people are destroying America, then be prepared to find Jesus as a flaming queen with a thick lisp.

And then, based upon how you handle this information–how genteel and kind you are–your true spirituality will be rewarded.

For Jesus told us that if we love those who love us, we are no better than the heathen. Anybody can do that.

But if we insist there is an inferior race, an abominable people or just folks that are “no damn good,” then we will need to go to the prisons, the hospital wards and the whore houses to really find the Master.

It is a nasty trap.

Perhaps it would just be easier to cease believing that anyone is least–smarter to drop the arrogance that keeps us in ignorance, where God has no tolerance.

The least of these my brethren is not actually a group of people. It is a gathering place for all of our bigotry–where Jesus is waiting for us so that we can find him and be blessed.

As soon as the church starts teaching a progressive message–that no matter how unique our fellow-humans may turn out to be, none of them are least–we will be at the mercy of cozying up to those we deem intolerable.

There are no third world countries.

There are no human abominations.

There are no inferior races.

There are no least.

If you believe there are “least” in the world, be prepared to journey to them to find your Master.

He will be sitting there–right in the middle of the people you hate, waiting for you to repent and find Him.

 

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