Jesonian: Qualified… April 20, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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There are those who would question whether the human race needs a savior. They contend that we are as we have evolved, without need or apology.

Yet most of us, spending some time staring in the mirror, have noted some vacancy in our soul and clutter in our conscience. We require a savior who offers transforming salvation.

I am Jesonian. I have chosen Jesus because he:

  • was tempted like we are in every way.
  • learned obedience through the things he suffered
  • grew in wisdom and stature
  • celebrated the faith he saw in others
  • was touched with our sicknesses
  • deflected praise
  • called himself the Son of Man
  • chose to be baptized
  • referred to us as friends
  • loved sinners
  • challenged hypocrisy
  • turned his back on religion
  • welcomed women as equals
  • was not afraid to make mistakes
  • honored free will–all the way through the cross.
  • taught the brotherhood of humans
  • gave us the power to become the sons of God
  • yearned to live
  • believed in salvaging people instead of judging them
  • told stories that children could understand
  • crossed racial, cultural, ethnic and social boundaries
  • established a new Holy Land: “the kingdom of God is within you.”
  • gave his life freely when others determined to take it

He was human.

And because of this, he is qualified to be the Savior of the human race.

Jesus didn’t save us by dying on the cross–he already had saved us by becoming a little lower than the angels … just as we are.

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Suffering Succotash… April 4, 2013

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succotashShe didn’t wear a hair net.

The health department had not yet enforced that particular rule, so Madeline would occasionally serve me my macaroni and cheese with a long red hair included within. It was one of the perils of being a ten-year-old, eating in the school cafeteria.

A second equally frightening concept was succotash. Somehow or another, somebody decided that succotash–the mysterious blend of corn and lima beans–was the vegetable of convenience to put on the plates of unsuspecting children.

Let us start out by saying that NO ONE likes succotash. I did meet one person  who told me he ate it and enjoyed it–right before the white truck arrived to take him back to the mental hospital.

Even though tons and tons of succotash were continually returned on plates and scraped into the trash can weekly, the school system refused to consider the possibility of finding a better vegetable to entice the young patrons. It was just assumed that vegetables were going to be hated anyway, so you might as well give them a cheap one that they could disregard, so you could stay on budget while piously maintaining that you tried to offer nutrition.

Yes, every child, in his or her lifetime, has gone through the indignity of suffering succotash.

Likewise, in the realm of the spirit, we are instructed by religion–fed in our churches an emotional and intellectual diet of doctrinal succotash. We are told that being a Christian is grounded in a certain amount of suffering. Otherwise we are not fulfilling the life of Christ. It doesn’t even take five minutes of gospel-hopping to discover that Jesus believed in abundant life, that he came to bring full joy, insisted that his burdens were light, told us we were the salt of the earth, said to rejoice and be exceedingly glad, and when faced with tribulation, to be of good cheer.

But if you base the entire message of Christianity on a twenty-one-hour period–from the Garden of Gethsemane to the death on the cross–as an illustration of devotion and lifestyle, you probably have missed the significance of thirty-three years of joy, victory, marveling, compassion and blessedness.

Why do we choose to offer succotash in the church under the guise of suffering, when no one is interested and every week, ends up scraping it off their plates, uneaten, into the trash can? Jesus never said that the door to heaven is through suffering. Actually, the door to heaven–or if you will, happiness–is through personal responsibility.

The world gives tribulation. My response is to be of good cheer. Why? Because Jesus has overcome the world.

It’s really that simple.

While the world debates gun control, abortion, states’ rights and racial issues, I refuse to join in and comply with the misery, but instead, take stock of myself and decide what I am going to personally do about guns, abortion, states’ rights and racial issues. Once I discover my approach, I can rejoice and be exceedingly glad. If I’m worried about world events, I probably will work myself into a tizzy.

Children don’t like succotash. When you continue to serve them succotash, you not only are wasting time and money, but you’re turning them into anti-vegetable people.

Human beings don’t like suffering. When you continue to preach suffering and insist it is the only available path, you’re turning them into anti-spiritual people.

Fortunately for me, I grew up and discovered that succotash was not the only vegetable. Also fortunately for me, I read the Bible, and in so doing, discovered that Jesus promoted joy–and not suffering.

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The Sun is at the Center of the City… February 25, 2013

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There was a time when folks were shocked to discover that the sun did not revolve around the earth. It may be central to our egomaniacal natures–to think that even powerful objects like Helios have to submit to our earthly will.
Likewise, just about the time I think I’ve become a well-rounded individual, having freshly knocked off a corner of one of my prejudices, I suddenly realize that I am still in the infant states of understanding, crawling towards comprehension.

It happened to me yesterday morning at Sun City Center. First of all, you will never meet a more delightful group of people, shepherded by an intelligent, competent woman possessing a tremendous world vision. But as I sat at my book table conversing with the departing folk, a dear lady came to my side and explained to me why she attended this particular house of worship.

“I used to go to a Baptist church because I like my worship a little more lively. But I was just never able to tolerate the indifference and even hostility they had for women. It culminated one Sunday when a young couple scheduled to sing a song for the Offertory had to be separated because–the male part of the duo was allowed to sit up on the platform and the female had to sit in the audience until it was her time to play the singing bird. I was outraged by the injustice. I was ashamed to be part of a country that still allows such backward thinking while pretending they’re pushing the world in a forward, democratic direction.”

I listened to her carefully. It struck me. I’ve always been a believer in equality between men and women, enacting it in my dealings. But I realized that the United States of America is stuck in specific timelines on various issues:

  • Racial relations–I think we’re still in the 1980’s. In other words, “people of different races should have rights-=I just don’t want to hear about it.”
  • Equality for all citizens despite individual preferences? though some folks think we’re progressing, we’re still a decade or two behind the rest of the world.
  • But on the issue of women–their rights, place and value–it might as well be 1892, with corsets and button-up shoes.

There are no equal measurements available. If a woman is organized, gregarious and commanding, she gets labeled with the “b” word (even though we feel no compulsion to not use the entire extent of the term). Women in this country have to accept the fact that they earn less money. Women are instructed that if they become assertive at all, words like “annoying,” “nagging,” “motherly” and “nasty” will impugn with character.

It just struck me that as we pursue Afghanistan, bringing the “gospel of America” to these unfortunate natives, to free them from the Taliban, we need to be careful that we do not maintain some of the tenets of the vicious enemy in our own daily discourse and interaction between the sexes.

Especially in Christianity. What would the church of Jesus of Nazareth be without Mother Mary? Mary Magdalene? Joanna and Susannah, who donated to his ministry out of their substance? Not to mention the countless women who opened their homes to the early church as sanctuaries for believers?

It is going to be very difficult for our country to overcome racial bigotry, social stigma, bullying and intolerance as long as we think it’s a comical punchline to portray women and men as natural adversaries. It is one of the few things that conservatives and liberals share in common–a standing joke that women and men are incompatible except in the bedroom.
I want to thank that dear soul who came to my table and prickled my conscience with an even greater revelation of the topsy-turvy philosophy we promote through all of our media. As long as comedians, entertainers and even last night’s Oscar presentation invoke a feminine mystique to keep women from equality, we will be a nation that fails to practice what we preach.

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