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UnRavelings… J. Wayne Yawn

  • January 16, 2018
I would guess that the most memorized and favorite Bible verse is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.” But left to us and our preference for WANTS over NEEDS, we turn this into a promise from Santa Claus WANT-meeting image of god rather than hear it as a promise from Jesus’ NEED-meeting image of God.

The WANT-image of God interprets this verse to say: God sent Jesus so that all who “pledge allegiance” in agreement to join Jesus’ “movement” will not perish when they die, but have eternal as everlasting existence in heaven. Eternal life is a kind of present we WANT from Santa-god. For many persons that is what they really want from their god. The moment of death becomes like a Christmas morning with everything ever WANTED—even with all the imagined “goodies” missed by them on this side of death.


The NEED-image of God, on the other hand, interprets this verse to say: God sent Jesus so that everyone who “follows” Jesus’ finds that which he or she NEEDS to know in order to experience God’s eternal QUALITY of life—the quality of life that is eternal AND everlasting!

Jesus revealed that which we NEED to do to experience life as God intends it for us. This interpretation of eternal life turns it into that which God gives us to be under our Self-Control. It is God’s gift of empowering us with Self-Control! Control by Holy eternal attitudes of patience, kindness, generosity and gentleness to meet the NEEDS of others for them to be fulfilled, rather than control by the opposites of the above listed attitudes. As a consequence of meeting others’ NEEDS, God designed it so that those meeting others’ NEEDS also experience fulfillment of life’s eternal quality. Both therefore do not perish (die) having failed to experience God’s intended quality of existence at the time of every NEED meeting!


To understand Eternal Quality of life being about NEEDS rather than WANTS, think of the experience of many persons at the early morning “wake-up” hour. WANTS are like the warm bed that tempts one to linger! But it is NEEDS to SERVE (self, family and others) that motivates one to leave the WANT of warmth and get up to be whole, fulfilled or eternal-in-quality of life! NEEDS promote selflessness! WANTS tend to make one selfish! Yet, meeting NEEDS of others is said to be selfless, it is actually selfish in the sense that it is the only authentic method of becoming truly one’s eternal quality Self! Self-Control by using Holy attitudes, turns SERVING others into the eternal quality life rather than a less than eternal quality life! Jesus prayed we live each day “as it is in heaven”. His teaching to live by serving NEEDS more than WANTS is His way how! Well? 

  • January 9, 2018

The two week Christian season of Christmastide ended last Sunday. The Biblical text for us to “root around” for a message from God was Jesus’ baptism in Mark 1. I find this an interesting story since Christmas is about Jesus physical birth. But when “rooting around” this text it also struck me as a “birth” story! Jesus’ spiritual birth as God’s son! It struck me as the conclusion of what surely had been a long (~30 years) internal struggle (fitting word since the name ‘Israel’ given to Jacob by God means ‘struggler with God’).


Curiously, Mark says only Jesus heard God’s joy and peace. Why? It was because Jesus’ internal debate with the Temple’s image of God as an all powerful dominant, distant being residing beyond the sky was over! The other image of God with which Jesus struggled was as a spirit, the Holy humble and compassionate spirit of his parent. A power within humans to motivate humans to be as God originally designed humans. Notice, Jesus said this experience was as if the sky “tore apart” “unblocking” God from being the compassionate spirit who met people’s needs like his carpenter father did! That settled his internal debate! Thus, the baptism story for the second Sunday in Christmastide is Jesus’ deliberate spiritual decision about God’s image!


From this one needs to hear that Jesus’ God never gives up on us becoming who God intended. Once a baby is born, God obviously isn’t finished. We must struggle as did Jesus to become our intended, fulfilled, finished person! A human parent’s job and greatest fulfillment is to see a child experience the joy and serenity of becoming FULLY who their gifts and abilities make them capable of being. To see children contribute to meeting the NEEDS of other persons is a parent’s dream. For in so doing children are most fulfilled themselves. Wasn’t that what Jesus heard God say? “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” I’m not out beyond the sky to be adored and praised, but right within you if you decide I AM the existence for which you are intended! You can tell! You feel me within when you use the gifts I give you to meet your own and other people’s needs, rather than just their wants. Wants are exhausting! But meeting needs, while often exhausting, are also fulfilling, authenticating as a genuine human, leaving one feeling “good” too!


Meeting wants makes one feel exhausted. A parent wants to meet a child’s hunger. It can be pleasurable, but its recurring is exhausting! But seeing hunger as meeting one’s need makes one feel authentic as a parent. It is a gift by which one receives during the acts of giving—“a gift that keeps on giving!” Exhausting yet fulfilling! That is God’s Christmas gift within you: “I am well pleased!” You’re finished for once! Do it again! It makes you feel like the heavens are open to you! Repeatedly!


  • January 2, 2016

As I write, like most end-of-year football seasons, this season seems bundled by ribbons of endless televised sport events. 2013 was the same, but I and many others remember one college football game. It was the annual inner state Iron Bowl football game in Alabama, between Auburn University and the University of Alabama.


The score was tied at the end of official time. Or so it seemed, until the referee, with help of video, determined Alabama had one second left on the game clock. Alabama decided to kick a field goal from Auburn’s 38 yard line to win. Auburn’s coach later reported he reasoned that the wind was against Alabama AND Alabama would use its biggest defensive (and slowest) players to block any possibility of blocking the kick. The Auburn coach placed a player who had once asked why a player was never placed in the end zone to catch an errant short kick and run it out. No rule said one couldn’t do that. So, Auburn’s coach stuck that player in the end zone. Sure enough, Alabama’s kick was short and landed in the hands of that player. He darted to the sideline and ran 108 yard for a touchdown, winning the game for Auburn. The chance of that happening was almost zero. Only four other times in history had that been done!


But that which happened next in 2013 from some Auburn players and fans is exactly the reaction that happened this year 2017 during postgame interviews of winning players. “I want to give God the glory;” “Praise God;” “first, I want to praise God for saving me from my sins”, and other similar exclamations.


Why is it players feel the need to give God the glory for winning a game? Does God have preferred teams? Are winning teams spiritually superior at the moment? I suggest this happens because of exposure to superficial theological thinking and teaching! Such theological thinking is penetrated with magical thinking about God, to imagine one can “control” God for one’s selfish purposes. Nothing is farther from Jesus’ theology. He taught us to use gifts for the common good to create fulfillment for all, rather than to secure enough things, money or wins for selfish fulfillment. That just makes others jealous and envious. Isn’t that the reason for our society’s competitive “win at all cost” mentality?


God didn’t cause Auburn to win! The clock did! Along with a coach’s and one player’s brains which could process options for the possible temporary “happiness” of winning. That is the difference between temporary happiness and fulfilling JOY and PEACE which is permanent—the consequence of performing as a designed human being. As I heard one winning coach say, “I feel bad for the other team who also performed at their highest level!” That is better theology! Get it?


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