Populie: God Bless America… July 2, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2280)

Kate Smith

God is still pretty popular.

America, too.

Yet there are many people who believe the two are synonymous–practically inseparable.

Thus the populie: “God bless America.”

Politics loves this slogan because it enables them to incorporate just enough religion to get the evangelical vote and just enough patriotism to acquire the libertarians.

Entertainment plays off the idea by producing both tear-jerking war movies and also flicks that question the authenticity and purpose of nationalism.

And of course, religion is partial to this idiom simply due to the fact that if we are convinced that we are favored by God, we might be able to get by with a few more inconsistencies before Daddy calls a time-out.

Yet as we near Independence Day, I am focused in on the power and veracity of the statement, “To he who much is given, much is expected.”

So because I love my country, respect our attempts at democracy and favor our liberty, I would like to deny the populie of “God bless America” and replace it with, “God challenge America.”

I know that God chastises those He loves–to make us sharper and more powerful. Yet we are losing our authority, presence and respectability due to the belief in our exceptionalism.

  • When it comes to women, we should be world leaders in equality, but we trail behind others.
  • We should take it seriously to stop killing. After all, when we discover a few packages of tainted ground beef in a grocery store, every package is recalled. Yet if twenty-two children are killed in a school, we continue to taint our lives with guns.
  • We should expand ourselves in equality by including others we do not agree with, honoring their right to freedom. God respects free will above all else, even purity.
  • We should be a nation that excels in productivity. For instance, I think we’re taking the wrong approach to the minimum wage. To give people more money for what they’re already doing is not only foolish, but actually a slothful business practice. But by the same token, if we can encourage productivity in our work force while passing along the dividends by increasing paychecks retroactively or offering bonuses, then we’re making our workers part of the solution instead of tying them in with the problem.
  • Why aren’t we leaders in morality?
  • How about civility?
  • Instead of arguing about the climate of the Earth, why don’t we at least see if there’s something we could do and then surprise ourselves by doing it?
  • Why don’t we take our young generation and encourage them to be respectful, industrious and creative instead of working to legalize more drugs, to dull their senses?
  • Why do we allow our older citizens to become bitter and calloused instead of demanding they use their journey to become wise and merciful?
  • If we truly do have the best medical care in the world, why aren’t we healthier?

Hiding your talent and refusing to use it is considered to be the definition of a sluggard.

Knowing what to do and not doing it is the best example of sin.

And living beneath your privilege only generates self-pity.

The populie is, “God bless America”–a way to live off the past by pretending that the present is sufficient because a Divine Presence controls our future.

My hope in this season is that we will allow God to challenge America to live up to our ideals, abilities and dreams.

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Grace Period … September 13, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2004)

leaseI remember how thrilled I was in my twenties when I realized that even though my rent was due on the first of the month, I had five days to pay it before I was delinquent. It was referred to as the “grace period.”

But here’s the problem with that idea: within two months I became convinced that my rent was not due until the fifth. Instead of following the rules of the lease, which said I should pay on the first, I felt my rent could wait until the fifth. Eventually I created my own grace period–I started paying on the tenth and then the fifteenth. In no time at all, I rationalized that I was only one month behind.

You see, grace sounds like a wonderful idea until it’s perverted in the mind of a human twister. Rather than being grateful for the extension of mercy, we have a tendency to redefine and expand upon the original offer.

It doesn’t work in our secular society when we tell people to lie, cheat, deny and avoid doing anything admitting fault, and it does not work in the religious community either, where we generate simpering converts who tearfully espouse their weakness and pray for God to cover their lack.

Is there anywhere or any place where people are still trying to make better human beings?

I will tell you what grace is NOT. From there you can draw your own conclusions:

1. Grace can never be expected. Why? Because the Good Book says that grace is “given to the humble,” and the minute we start thinking we’re picking it up like a paycheck, pride and arrogance remove the value of the gift.

2. It can’t continue to allow us license to be stupid. Once again, the Good Book tells us that we can’t “continue in sin,” hoping that grace will arrive by oxcart, just in time to cover our butts.

3. And finally, grace can’t brag. The minute we start telling stories about how God has supernaturally protected us from our own foolishness instead of silently breathing a prayer of gratitude due to unmerited favor, we not only become obnoxious, but heaven also stops returning our phone calls.

God’s grace is sufficient for us–and therefore is determined by Him, not by the accumulation of our mounting pleas.

I think we would do well to take a season in our society to walk away from grace and encourage people to rediscover the power and majesty of personal responsibility.

  • I don’t think it will diminish grace, because when we are looking to our own hearts, we are humble. God gives grace.
  • When we’re checking out our own motives, we stop fostering foolishness and sin in our lives. Grace is permitted to hang around.
  • And if we will cease screaming and yelling about grace being everlasting, we will discover that the amount sent our way is always sufficient.

I have noticed of late that not many companies talk about “grace periods” anymore. For grace given to a lazy fool is always wasted, always taken for granted and always defined by the sluggard as a blank check … for stupidity.

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