Jesonian–Troubling (Part 10)… September 2nd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Troubling.

In the Gospel of John, the 9th Chapter, the disciples of Jesus get into a rather frumpy, cheesy, theological mood and approach Jesus with a question.

They had come upon a gentleman who was blind from birth, and they officiously asked the Master whether this happened to him due to his own sin, or the sin of his parents?

Keep in mind–these are the same fellows who had seen water turned into wine, five thousand folks fed with five loaves and two fishes, demons cast out and the dead raised. Yet when it comes to discussing the nature, tenderness, mind-set and intellect of God, they revert back to their small-village, Sunday School mentality.

They made two errors:

First, they contended that God punishes people for their sins. Nothing could be further from the truth. And Jesus made it clear–good things happen to good people and bad people, and bad things happen to everyone equally. (Otherwise, there would be great impetus to be good instead of bad, just to garner the material blessing.)

The second mistake was that they believed that people were “born a certain way.” Obviously, this notion permeates our society as well. We are convinced people are born athletes, born musicians, born leaders, born dexterous…shall I go on? We take comfort in the assertion because it gives us all an excuse for not taking the abilities we see in ourselves and multiplying them to make our lives more abundant.

These two completely errant ideas were put forth by these Galileans two thousand years ago–ideas which are still an intricate part of the doctrinal DNA of the average Christian.

  • “Don’t sin or God will punish you.”
  • And “you are destined to be something by birth.”

I think it is important to note Jesus’ response. He completely dismisses both possibilities. He makes it clear that God doesn’t punish people for their sins–and especially not for the sins of their parents. And he also says that destiny is a myth because free will is extolled throughout the Universe as the “go-to plan.”

You can’t have both free will and destiny. They do not co-habitate. Even though you may have a certain genetic makeup, it does not overtake you and turn you into something you do not choose to be.

It is also why the Bible makes it clear that part of the salvation experience is to be “born again”–becoming a new creature in Christ.

Jesus said that God was not punishing anyone, and that the man was not born blind. He said that blindness was in his life so that God could be made manifest through him in a unique way.

There’s nothing wrong with taking what seems to be a weakness and turning it into a strength so that God might receive glory. This blind man is not complaining; he is not joining into the theological discussion about his plight. Matter of fact, he’s not even begging to be healed.

He has found a place in his place to make a place for every place he goes.

That’s our job.

I was dealt a certain hand and so were you. Now, through the blessing of free will, I have the ability to turn those circumstances to the positive instead of internalizing them to complain about my pain.

It is troubling that we still have a church that believes if bad things happen to people, the people must be bad–and that we live in a society which insists we were all “born” with a certain destiny.

God gave us free will. We can deny it and wait for Him to plan our lives, only to discover that He doesn’t do that, and our time on Earth has slipped away.

Or we can take a look at what we have–an inventory, if you will–and see what great things we can accomplish–simply by stepping forward instead of backward.

 

 

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Paulless… February 1, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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El Paso SanctuarySaint Paul United Methodist Church in El Paso, Texas. My latest tour date.

Saint Paul.

I guess it’s one of those titles they give to you after you’re dead, and they’re trying to apologize for how badly they treated you. Sometimes they even name a frigid city in Minnesota after you.

The reason I like Paul is because he understood both ends of the spectrum of human life. Well … I should say he exhibited them, whether he understood it or not.

It would be unfortunate for our modern world if Earth had ended up “Paulless.” Honestly, Peter and the other eleven disciples were quite content, after the resurrection, to sit in their rocking chairs on Solomon’s Porch outside the Temple, and recall former days when water turned to wine.

It was Paul who was curious about reaching the rest of the world and not just those who liked to have a little “shew” with their bread. Matter of fact, I can guarantee you that Christianity would never have reached the white, bratwurst-eating tribes had it not been for Paul of Tarsus.

But the best thing about him is that he demonstrates that being inspired by God involves a combination of mistakes and discoveries.

  • Because the same Paul who succeeded in getting the gospel message to the Gentiles also spent way too much time arguing with the Jews, who had no intention of changing and ended up sending him to his demise.
  • Yes, Paul, who welcomed women into the ministry as equals, got into a bad mood one day and equated the female of the species as being deceived “weaker vessels” who needed to submit.
  • He taught us about the grace of God instead of a mean, Old Testament grouch, but also over-emphasized a plan of salvation instead of explaining the lifestyle of Jesus.
  • He had the eloquent moment in the book of Philippians, where he proclaimed with great joy, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” while also being tagged with writing complaints about how he was mistreated and not allowed to be an apostle.
  • With great humility he bowed his head and received the welcoming acceptance of Barnabas when the rest of the Christians were afraid of him because of his vendetta against the faith, only to turn around when Barnabas wanted to be forgiving toward John Mark, who had grown road weary, and condemned the boy as unworthy of his calling.

It’s all in there. It is unedited. It is why I know the Good Book is divinely inspired–for a God who plans on saving the world doesn’t need to embellish the story to make everything seem fine.

If the world was Paulless–well, the world probably wouldn’t have Jesus.

It also wouldn’t have the obvious example of a man who was ordained with greatness … and bewitched by moments of insecurity.

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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

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