Good News and Better News … April 2nd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Little Jonathan, Jonny, Precious, Jon, Big Jon, Rock, singer, artist, Jonathan Richard, lover, boyfriend, daddy, Papa, father, traveler, performer, controversial, G-Pop, blogger, songwriter, friend.

These are all names associated with me over the years. What a list.

I am not that significant. But I also must tell you that Alexander the Great was not that great, and Ming the Merciful was often fussy.

Names are bandied about to explain what we feel rather than to clarify what someone or something is. This came to my mind last night when I watched the NBC version of “Jesus Christ, Superstar.”

Not only did he need to be “Jesus,” but someone required him to take on the name “Christ.” And not only “Christ” but now, by reputation, he has become a “Superstar.”

A list of such names and adjectives is accumulated in Isaiah from the Good Book.

  • Wonderful
  • Counselor
  • Mighty God
  • Everlasting Father
  • Prince of Peace

I suppose most people would proclaim that Jesus was all of those. But I’m sorry. “Wonderful” just does not do it for me. Sitting around and praising a deity for his goodness does very little to enhance my life.

Some folks would find it essential to establish that he is a “Mighty God,” but I think mastering the rising of the sun and the setting of the same makes that pretty clear.

“Everlasting Father?” I actually need a father here. I don’t know if I need one for eternity.

“Prince of Peace?” That’s cool, but the Prince of Peace also required that I be a peace-maker.

As I look at all the superlatives used to describe the life of Jesus of Nazareth, the one that stands out to me from the list is “Counselor.”

Jesus is my counselor. He has kept me out of jail. He has assisted me in maintaining my fibers of sanity. He has led me in understanding how to become more valuable to the human beings around me. He has informed me on discovering when a door is closed and when it is open.

He taught me to ask and seek and knock instead of complaining about the menu that life has thrust at me.

Because I have accepted him as my counselor, wonderful things have happened. I have been able, through my testimony, to confirm that he is a “Mighty God” and an “Everlasting Father.” And peace? He has been a Prince.

But more importantly, he is my counselor because he is my confidante, and for those who pursue the path of atheism, he is my invisible friend, whom I frequently talk to. And if he doesn’t exist, he’s still a great therapy session. After all, not everyone can afford two hundred dollars an hour for a professional.

I do believe that what you call Jesus does determine the level of religiosity which plagues your soul–because every drop of traditional religion that inhabits us also inhibits us.

So the good news is that Jesus, being versatile, has many names, and just like you and me, has taken on a variety of personas.

And the better news is, you can feel free to call him anything you want.

 

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Who Is the King of Glory? … June 4, 2012

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I read it on Facebook.

It was a posting by a dear young lady who shared a verse from the Bible, but at the end of the statement, she added, “I know it sounds religious, but in the moment it was very meaningful to me.”

It gave me pause. Why did she feel the need to apologize for the impact of a moment of inspiration? Actually, it is one of the greatest dividing lines in our society—people over the age of thirty-five are fairly comfortable sharing their faith or elements of their beliefs. People under thirty-five are reticent and have great trepidation—that espousing acknowledgments of God makes them look out of the flow, or dare I say—even ignorant?

Part of this is due to the influx of pseudo-intellectualism in our country, which attempts to make all believers in a Divine Being appear to be barefooted hillbillies who have never cracked a book in their lives. But honestly, most of it is due to a phenomenon that occurred just about thirty-five years ago. Take the journey back in time with me.

Thirty-six years ago, God was pretty cool. For after all, Jesus Christ was a Superstar. “God,” Himself, could put a wonderful “Spell” on you. The Doobie Brothers told us that Jesus Is Just Alright with Me. Even old-time evangelist Billy Graham grew his hair out a little longer and every once in a while added a little “mod” to his God.

And then something happened. I would call it a reverse revival—a decision to go backwards in the faith to try to find the future of God’s will. Religious leaders addressed the tragedy of AIDS by referring to it as a gay plague, sent by Divine judgment to destroy the homosexual community. Of course, they were proven wrong when the virus was no respecter of persons, wiling to inflict and infect everyone. These same religionists found themselves on the wrong side of the issue of apartheid in South Africa, when the system was corrupt and needed to be overthrown. Rather than sitting down and having an intelligent discussion about birth control and the value of human life, they instead picketed–and often harmed those who worked at clinics that offered the option of abortion.

They took a belief in God from its simplicity of personal faith and made it into a machine gun that sprayed bullets of condemnation into the unsuspecting masses. And then, on September 11th, 2001, when religious charlatans flew airplanes into buildings, killing innocent people, it became obvious that there was a danger in accepting any form of Godliness into your life without flirting with insanity.

So who IS this King of Glory? Who is this God, if He exists? If He’s a Creator, does He comprehend His creation? Does He understand us? Or has He taken a sabbatical and left His shop in the hands of less-than-competent micro-managers?

There are three things that every human being requires, and if the experience they are pursuing does not offer these possibilities, then the endeavor fails to provide satisfaction.

First, we all need to be saved.  If we don’t confess our shortcomings and sins, we begin to develop an elaborate web of lies to deny our weaknesses instead of admitting them so they can be addressed and ministered to. God must save us or He’s really not God.

Secondly, we also need to be richer. Now, understand, I am NOT saying “rich.” Just a few dollars above our own indebtedness. Just enough money so that generosity seems to be in order instead of a desperate act of sacrifice. We need a God who teaches us how to use our talents more effectively so that they multiply and provide us with greater capacity for solvency and success.

And finally, every human being needs to be wiser. Wisdom is the ability to take our experiences and turn them into ideas that allow us to learn from what happens instead of always getting burned. All of us need to be wiser. All of us need to understand that the greatest wisdom is acknowledging that “NoOne is better than anyone else.” If we stop trying to prove that we’re better, we can actually make our own situation … better.

Somewhere along the line, religion has failed to deliver anything from this trio of demands except salvation. So unless you are terribly desperate to confirm your heavenly passage to eternity every single week, the need to attend a local house of worship is often dimmed by the offering of a bright, sunny day.

God seems to be outdated to His own agenda.

Some of the poorest people in the world spend the most time praising the Almighty—and certainly many of the selfish, more short-sighted causes are pursued by those who pray without ceasing. The end result is that those who have been born since Jesus Christ stopped being a “Superstar” now are a bit afraid to embrace the heavenly Father for fear of being smacked in the head instead of receiving a pat of approval.

Ironically, I spent yesterday morning sharing at the King of Glory Lutheran Church in suburban Denver, Colorado. At 9:00 A.M., I stared out at a sea of faces and they back at me. We were trangers. We were cautious with each other. We wondered if any good thing could come out of us—to enrich the life of the other.

Blessedly, when I left the stage at 9:51, I had made a bunch of friends. I put the King of Glory to work. I presented God as a forgiving, divine, almighty Being who is prepared to forgive us and save our souls. I shared that He was an intelligent presence who expects us to take personal responsibility for our lives and improve our financial status by using our own talents and abilities, so that we don’t need to beg for bread but can give bread to the beggar.  And together we talked about how to be wiser, rejecting the stupidity of striving to constantly be superior to other people, but instead, taking what we know and use it effectively in our next project.

The King of Glory made sense. He was not only powerful to save; He was also prepared to enrich and to grant us wisdom without making fun of us for our lack.

I wish I could take a whole generation that has been scared away from intimacy with the Creator on a journey to discover the true height and depth of His love. But religion is powerful. Religion is predictable—and therefore inhaled by those who have grown comfortable with stale air. Religion is political, and therefore prepared to insult and attack in order to maintain its position.

So I quietly will go about my business loving those God sends my way as simply and as gently as I can. I will tell them who this King of Glory truly is:

He is a friend who wants to save them, help them find ways to be richer, and impart to them a great journey… into wisdom.

   

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

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