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Jesus Freaks
Today is March 16, 2001, and Ted Turner is in the news again, and again because of his inappropriate comments. According to television news agencies Turner insulted some of his own employees by referring to them as "Jesus freaks," apparently because they had ashes on their foreheads (following an Ash Wednesday service). One reporter said Turner also said, on this or another time, that religion is for "losers." Minnesota governor Jessie Venture said much the same thing last year, for which he apologized. I suppose Ted made some Christians see red but I thought, "Hey, this man knows his Christian theology (whether he actually knows it or not)." If not religion, certainly Christianity is for losers. Good for you, Ted!

I'm not ready to give Turner the "Theologian of the Year" award because I'm not sure at this point he appreciates the significance of his statement. But, as you know, out of the mouth of babes…. I think if Ted and St. Paul were having a coke and comparing notes, both would shake hands and smile on this issue, even if for different reasons. Religion is precisely for losers, that is, losers who know it and own up to it.

Do you remember that socially up-setting parable Jesus told about the two men in the temple? (Luke 18:9-14) Two men went into the temple to pray. One was a respected, honored, and self-righteous Pharisee. The other was a socially despised, disrespected, and shamed tax collector. The Pharisee bragged about his righteous acts to God and even compared himself to the tax collector. "This tax collector," he said with a sneer, "is a loser!" The crowd cheered (a little Mercerism here). The tax collector didn't respond. He just beat his chest, hung his head, and said, "God, please me merciful to me, for I am a loser." Jesus said, "Guess which man God heard with favor?" You're right, the loser. Actually the loser was the winner and the supposed winner was the real loser. That is the way things are in the kingdom of God. Those who admit their need of God and turn to God receive God's mercy. Those who think they are heads and shoulders above others, and that they have the right to judge others, well, all they get is the little they have. And when they stand before God ...

You see, we all need God and we all need one another. Maybe Ted would think the same way if he dug ditches for a living, rather than managing empires. I don't know. Its not mine to say. I do know that whether we accept the reality of God or not we are all losers. A great scientist has a great mind, but his wonderful mind is trapped in a dying body. Maybe it gives some people a fleeting sense of triumph to thumb their noses at God until their last breath. That, though, is a losing proposition. I am not concerned here with philanthropy, because we all know Ted Turner is a great philanthropist. I am thinking about the very reality that seems to cause Ted problems: God. I do not know if Ted is upset at organized religion or at the thought of being religious or because his sister died and that caused him great sorrow (as it should).

I apologize, Ted, if I have misread you. Maybe deep down you realize you too are a loser…in the gospel sense. Then you and, maybe me too, will receive mercy.


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© 2001 Jerry L. Mercer
Added 11Apr01

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I know this is old, but I wonder what you think about it?