Personal Jesus

Jared at the Thinklings carves up the post-modern idea of a personal, relative Jesus.

I’d suggest even more errant Jesuses propagated by American evangelicalism — Success Guru Jesus, Mystical Experience Jesus, Politically Correct Jesus, Fundamentalist Jesus, Patriotic Jesus, Co-Pilot Buddy Jesus, Tony Robbins Jesus, Personal ATM Jesus, and last but certainly not least My Own “Personal” Jesus.

How do we sort through these myriad Jesuses, each of which has just enough truth in them (even if just a dash) to make them dangerous, to find the real Person Jesus Christ? I think we ought to start with the Gospels, which usually are the last texts consulted. We think we are quite familiar with them, but we are not. We think we know their stories and have been building on them for years, but the army of false Jesuses marching in the hearts of well-meaning Christians testifies otherwise.

Being a Christian in America is easy. Sure, the establishment looks on you with disdain, and a few look down on you as if you are an ignorant yokel. This is nothing compared to the life of a Christian in 3rd Century Rome, or in 21st Century Indonesia or China.

A church that is not enduring persecution has time and space to grow complacent. The Church of Christ in America, without the constant threat of annihilation, has time to develop an ideology of comfort, a doctrine of prosperity. Our basic needs are taken care of. We worry not about food, shelter, money, or the other amenities of the good life. We are not rabble. We are not desperate. The God we desire is not one of the basics of life but of more important matters.

The American Christian can find a Jesus to fit his or her own life. The ideologue can worship a Jesus who stood up and spoke truth to power. The environmentalist can worship a Jesus who cared for nature. The hippie can worship a Jesus who rejected the social mores of the establishment.

I could go on, but the point is made. We cannot let American complacency lead us to seek out a Jesus who is but a reflection of our own desires. Jared makes the point that we must return to scripture, to the gospel, in order to meet the real Jesus, the living and breathing Jesus. He leaves us with a warning, however.

The Word of God — both the living Word and the written Word — is transformational revelation. If we are not being transformed by Christ and Scripture, we are not reading Christ and Scripture correctly.

And if we constantly find them confirming our sense of self and our prejudices, leaving us unrepentant or unmoved, we have the chief indication we are looking down the deep, dark well of our own heart and seeing our own reflection.

We cannot let our Lord and Saviour be defined by our culture or ourselves. The knowledge of Jesus Christ is something that defines us instead. The primary source of that knowledge is scripture. We must cut through the detritus built up by years of comfort and complacency and study God’s Word. It is there where we meet our Saviour.

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