Ask Jonathots … October 1st, 2015

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I began a new job three months ago and am enjoying it thoroughly. I am part of a group of ten, and several of them profess to be atheists. It comes up mostly by way of them making jokes about the stupidity of people who believe in God, or people on the “Christian right.” I am a Christian. I would like to be a good representative of Jesus, who represented himself so well. So far, I must admit, I have been a chicken–not even revealing that “I go to church.” Frankly, I don’t want “church” to be a picture of my faith nor wait until someone is in a crisis. Help!

Pizza.

If you ask ten different people what pizza is, you will more than likely get ten different answers. So you intelligently learn not to ask too many questions, but instead, just enjoy pizza.

But pizza really is not complicated. It’s not about the toppings. Good pizza always begins with a delicious crust and a savory sauce.

If the crust and the sauce are crappy, the toppings can’t do much to save it. The crust should be able to stand on its own as delectable and the sauce should be full-bodied–something you would be willing to eat with a spoon.

If your crust and your sauce are right-on, the toppings are only a blessing to your taste.

So pizza is like God.

If you don’t get the crust of God correct and add the right sauce of spirituality, it’s crummy.

That’s the case that atheists make.  Crummy God.

  • You are not supposed to defend God.
  • You are not supposed to defend your faith.
  • You are supposed to have a life that is filled with such good works that people notice and then it affords you a chance to explain where you got such good “crust and sauce.”

This is how Jesus represented God.

So let me draw the parallels. There are two things that make “good God:”

The crust of our faith–God is our Father.

The sauce–Jesus is our life coach.

There’s your crust and your sauce. “God is my Father, Jesus is my life coach.”

So whatever toppings you add above that are just preference.

  • Maybe you like guitar music.
  • Maybe you enjoy communion.
  • Maybe you think going to church twice a month is enough.

Who cares?

This will also keeps you out of religious discussions, which are futile.

In sharing this simple “crust and sauce” philosophy, you generate a climate where people can come and talk to you without feeling they’re going to have to escape your religiosity.

Pizza is all based on the crust and the sauce. The toppings are to taste.

But if the crust and sauce are not good, you will soon grow tired of eating it, no matter how much you heap above.

 

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Ask Jonathots … September 24th, 2015

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It seems to me that you only win in life if you’re aggressive. For instance, Donald Trump, who is extremely defensive and cutting, leads in the Republican polls. I’m not asking you to talk about politics, just answer this question: how can Jesus suggest that we get anywhere by “turning the other cheek?” Or is he just talking about the afterlife?

I think the problem in most people’s thinking is that they like to characterize certain words as positive or negative. Putting it in simpler terms, most folks would consider passive to be the opposite of aggressive.

But the issue is not whether we should be aggressive. The issue is, to whom?

You are absolutely correct–aggression expressed to others as a means of domination or for generating payback is not only non-spiritual, but also generally considered, in the long run, to be a lame choice.

Yet we are certainly supposed to be aggressive to ourselves. Intertwined in the teachings of Jesus is a strong motivational message to go the second mile, be perfect even as the Father in Heaven is perfect, and take care of the beam in your own eye instead of worrying about the mote in your brother’s eye.

The foible in humans is that we would much rather be aggressive toward other people’s weaknesses than our own.

Donald Trump is characterized as aggressive, but he isn’t alone. There is a general consensus in our society that we can achieve success by–pardon the expression–“trumping” others. Nothing could be further from the truth.

After all, insult may be the only word that never requires a period. As long as an insult is hanging in the air, it’s just awaiting the arrival of the next insult.

So what does it mean–to be aggressive to yourself?

1. Take an inventory.

Consider what you actually can do instead of what you want to do, and then work on those talents.

2. Practice what you want to achieve until you reach the point that you don’t have to make excuses for your shortcomings.

There will still be failures but you want to make sure they are not caused by your lack of perseverance.

3. Don’t compare your work to the work of others.

Compare it to your own vision and what you desire to achieve.

The Jesonian life–a life following Jesus–is an aggressive one–but not in relationship to our judgment and critique of others.

Rather, in our own passion to perfect our ways … and learn how to go the second mile.

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