Good News and Better News … March 12th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3609)

“There’s blues in the pews.”

A quiet resignation to what is deemed to be an acceptable despondency: “Just a few more weary days and I’ll fly away.”

Motivated to only share a Gospel that gets us to heaven while maintaining a cultural grouchiness on Earth, the church is not ready to tear down the gates of hell.

Instead, the American church spends too much time tearing down one another. Congregations often act like they’re in the middle of a mine cave-in, where there’s a shortage of oxygen and those around them seem to have too many nostrils.

Abundant life and an existence filled with joy seem to be Biblical promises of a coming kingdom instead of the Kingdom of God, which is declared to be within us.

There’s blues in the pews.

It won’t do any good for us to ignore it. There’s no reclamation by refusing to discuss the problem out of political correctness. After all, there are some subjects we are not supposed to broach. For instance, it’s not proper to complain that a funeral is too long nor that Grandma’s Thanksgiving turkey is too dry. And it’s completely unacceptable to insist that for some reason, this year Santa Claus was too cheap.

But if we are willing to quietly consider the situation, we could come up with three realities which create some of the blues in the pews:

1. This is what we do.

Even though the Bible says “the Lord’s blessings are fresh daily,” we continue to warm up leftovers and pass them off as new recipes.

2. This is who we do it with.

We get to know each other too well. It invites criticism. And because no fresh blood is being infused, we “clot up” in disrespect and confusion.

3. Simultaneously, we are defensive about how it is done.

It may not make us happy, but “God bless America, we’re gonna keep on doing it because we’ve always done it this way.”

There will be blues in the pews until we realize that church is not meant for God–it’s meant for His people. It’s a place intended for fellowship–where folks can mourn, consider and embrace.

The good news is, Jesus left us a beautiful example of what church should be–for those around him said, “We have never seen it in this fashion before.”

The better news is, it stands to reason that if we follow the example of Jesus, we just might start getting “Jesus results.”

 

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Iffing Way (Part 7) Nic at Night … December 1, 2014

 

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2430)

If bigger

What if a voice of sanity had risen up at various stages in the story of human history, to offer a challenging view when craziness was about to win the day?

If …

He was summoned, forcibly invited.

He felt like a schoolboy under the control of the master, with no will of his own. But he knew what it was about.

The head chair on a committee where he sat had a vendetta. Now, the distinguished leader would choose to call it something else. Perhaps “a needful intrusion.” “A holy mission.” Or even, “a matter of course.”

He knew better.

He wasn’t sure if it was jealousy on the part of the chair person, ignorance, or even something as simple as an ongoing tiff with his wife which had left him grumpy.

It wasn’t the first time there had been a summons. No, many times the subject had been discussed and debated, but finally tabled, with everyone leaving in a huff, unfulfilled.

But this time was different. Apparently the boss now felt he had the votes to pull off his will.

It was all so bizarre.

In the midst of a decline of popularity of the national faith, a young man from Nazareth had arrived on the scene and re-energized the populace. Now, an intelligent conclave of distinguished fellows might have seen this as an opportunity to bring in fresh blood and move people to spiritual awareness. But this particular gathering of theologians and pseudo-politicians lacked vision.

He was preplexed. What was even more confusing to him was that he had made a journey by night to visit this young man who was stirring up the religious system. He clearly remembered two words from their discourse:

“Born again.”

The carpenter-turned-preacher had told him that he needed to be “reborn” to be in step with what was going on. He was offended. So because he considered himself to be a dynamic debater, he tried to make the young Galilean feel stupid or awkward by challenging the meaning of the term. Facts are, he knew what this young Jesus meant by “born again.”

Everything around him reeked of old–ancient ideas and meaningless practices.

Yet that night, he’d found himself walking away–trying to include the message of the Nazarene instead of being born again into it.

But this was different.

He knew that Caiaphas was in charge of the board, and was seeking to levy punishment against this innocent unaware.

What was he going to do?

He prided himself on the fact that he was smarter than Caiaphas because the officious leader was so headstrong that he frequently left himself wide open for counter-point.

Yet he had grown weary of argument and become known as a sympathizer, which was now rendering him ineffective among his peers. After all, it was not only improper, but illegal to be a follower of Jesus.

Arriving at the meeting, it quickly became obvious that Caiaphas had a death warrant for Jesus.

What was he going to do? Should he remain silent, and still curry the favor of his fellows? Or was it time to be born again and use the wisdom and style that he had developed over years of practice, to help save the life of the freshest idea to come around in decades?

It was nighttime again. But this time he would not walk away and pretend he didn’t understand.

He made a case against Caiaphas–quietly, reverently, but also with a conniving purpose. In no time at all, the stubborn Pharisee was speaking double-talk and the committee dismissed itself to go back to their homes, unresolved.

Jesus was saved for another night.

Jesus would be able to continue to teach.

And Nicodemus would be able to hold his head high and just maybe start the process in his life…of being born again.

 

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