Good News and Better News… December 5th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3146)

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Jesus is a lifestyle.

Every time we try to focus on the “Christ” of his Earth journey and turn him into a religion, it seems clunky, fabricated, forced, unreal and nearly irrational.

It’s similar to when we try to make George Washington appear to be a statesman. George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were rebels. They were revolutionaries. They actually found it difficult to stop their struggle and create a government.

The early disciples had the same problem when it came to Jesus.

Jesus taught them how to have abundant life, good cheer, tolerance, an expansive talent base and generosity. He did not instruct them to maintain the integrity of Judaism with the purpose of including the Old Testament.

So every time we try to present a Judeo-Christian image, we lose the lifestyle of Jesus–which is the essence of the Gospel.

Our church services today have more of Catholicism in them than Nazareth.

So let’s look at it from the aspect of definitions:

Religion: an attempt to find God in ancient scrolls, mysticism and tradition, feeling that these sacraments are the divine path to reach the Creator.

Church: a system we have set up within this religious thinking, to define our style of worship, welcoming a contingency of people who are comfortable within the format.

Christian: a doctrine that has been established which includes the teachings of Jesus, but focuses equally on the Epistles of the Apostle Paul, to formulate a plan of salvation based upon the death, burial and resurrection of the Messiah.

Then we have Jesonian.

Jesonian is a return to the simplicity of the lifestyle of Jesus, who told us that his “ways were easy and his burden was light,” and that the purpose for pursuing his values was to “find rest for your soul.”

So the religious system permeating our society today is a core belief in the atonement of Christ on the cross, the folklore of Judaism, mingled with Catholicism, punctuated with Anglo-Saxon traditions and peppered with American patriotism.

It is not the lifestyle of Jesus.

It lacks the personal responsibility, the joy, the freedom and the experimentation that he promoted as he walked among humanity.

The good news is that Jesus wants to keep things simple and easy.

The better news is that human beings are much more productive and happy when things are simple and easy.

 

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Ask Jonathots … October 15th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2723)

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I have an acquaintance at work who is a fundamentalist Christian. Almost every day she comes into work and cites some tragic world event, such as the flood in South Carolina or all of the conflict and killing in the Middle East–especially with Russia entering Syria–and she joyfully proclaims that these are “signs of the end times” and that “Jesus will be coming back soon.” Is there any way I could convince her that God wants to save the world, not destroy it? Heads up: I don’t want the world to end!

I would like to begin my answer by focusing on the word “fundamentalist,” especially when it’s tied to the word “Christian.”

The definition of fundamentalist is someone who is a strict adherent to a philosophy, a doctrine or a cause. It’s an individual who holds to the letter of the law as being the correct process in pursuing the spirit of the law.

Therefore there are even fundamentalist atheists.

But when you place the word “fundamentalist” with the word “Christian” you create a quandary, because Jesus claimed that he was the fulfillment of all the Law and Prophets, and then he boiled down the entire extent of that body of work to two principles:

  1. We’re to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength;
  2. And the second is like unto it: love your neighbor as yourself.

So fundamentalists who believe they’re a Christian because they hold fast to the Old Testament or to the Epistles of the Apostles will certainly find themselves on shaky ground if one of those ideas is contrary to loving the Lord or your neighbor.

Also, Jesus made it very clear that he had not come to destroy the world, but to save it, nor condemn the world, but instead, welcome change. Our goal was to be peacemakers.

Anyone who finds joy in the suffering of mankind has by default become a cheerleader for evil.

The reason the Bible says that Jesus will eventually return to Earth is to keep us from killing everyone on the planet.

  • It is an act of mercy, not vengeance.
  • It is a position of grace, not judgment.

So if we have any desire to see the world end and for suffering to multiply so that such an event might occur, then we are identical to James and John, who wanted to rain fire down from Heaven because a Samaritan village refused to welcome them.

So when I run across people who have that mindset, I explain to them that I understand their desire but I do not consider them to be followers of the heart of Jesus.

I call them Apocalyptic Believers. In other words, they believe in the Apocalypse.

If they really believed in Jesus, they would pray for a way for the world to be preserved and saved… until more people could find their way home.

 

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Jesonian: The Finisher (Part II)… June 21st, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2619)

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Jesus of Nazareth arrived on the scene in a cluttered atmosphere of laws that he characterized as restrictions “that were grievous to bear” and that those who made the rules “didn’t lift a finger” to aid people in fulfilling them.

There was a need for an edit.

The document, the commandments and all the interpretations needed to be trimmed.

So just as there was a need for an author, now came the time for a finisher.

It all came to a head one day when a lawyer asked a question of Jesus, trying to make himself look extremely profound, and also in an attempt to trick the Nazarene into saying something renegade.

“What is the greatest commandment?” he asked, feigning sincerity.

Here it was–the opportunity to take thousands of years of legalism and brush it away to discover the hidden meaning, powerful and applicable.

Jesus responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and the second is like unto it: love your neighbor as yourself.”

Even though Jesus insisted he came to fulfill the law, the definition of fulfillment in this case was to simplify it down to a lifestyle instead of packaging it in a religion.

When we continue to insist that the Torah and the Talmud, and even the Epistles of Jesus’ disciples carry the same significance as these two simple commandments of Jesus, we force people into primitive spiritual caves, from which they seldom emerge, just sitting around cuddling by the fire, frightened of the outside world.

We have an edit. The author of our faith came to be the finisher.

So what is the message?

God wants to be loved:

First with our heart–our emotions.

Then with our soul–the part of us that lives on.

But also our mind–having the warmth and tenderness of His mercy affect our thinking.

And finally, our strength–taking words and turning them into actions.

Jesus’ message was profoundly clear. The way we prove we actually love God is by loving people.

To the average Jew, Jesus was a law-breaker:

  • He did not honor the Sabbath.
  • He did not cleanse his utensils.
  • He did not fast enough to meet the qualifications.
  • And he certainly did not believe that the Jews were special because they were the “children of Abraham.”

This is what got him crucified.

The Jewish Council did not trump up charges to present to Pilate. They believed that Jesus was a heretic, a criminal and a threat to Israel.

Actually, the Author came to finish His work.

So those who criticze people’s choices, personalities, doctrines, predilections and lifestyles … well, they always refer back to material which has already been edited out of the final manuscript.

What remains are two simple opportunities and responsibilities:

Love God.

And love people.

Anyone who does this is living out the dream of Jesus.

Anyone who doesn’t is trapped in a legalism…which has already been deemed worthless. 

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