Jesus continues to thrive in today's society, despite it being a time where Christianity seems to be facing more and more social marginalization. From scammy preachers on television to Jesus being used for political and social movements, we've appropriated Jesus to become a mascot for what we want Christianity to be. It makes us wonder, is the real Jesus of the Bible or a Jesus of our own making?
In Romans, the Apostle Paul teaches of Christ’s mission to call out a people and form them into His likeness, but it seems we are more interested in forming Jesus into our image. We make statements like “The Jesus I know would…” but many times these have no Biblical basis. We have to remember the real reason Jesus came to earth and gave up His life for us.
Here are the signs that you have begun worshipping a counterfeit version of Christ that has no real Christian value.
Liberal? Conservative? Environmentalist? Pro-life? The name of Jesus has been used for all these “-isms” and more. It’s so easy to take our own traditions, worldviews, and causes, paste Jesus’ name on them, and call them “Christian.” However Jesus isn’t a conservative Republican and He isn't a progressive Democrat. Jesus is not a poster child for the cause you so deeply care about, no matter how important you think it is. That is not what the Bible is about, and not the type of Jesus you should be celebrating.
Stop plastering Jesus on your billboards as a way to make your political agenda reach further. Christians have one supreme message: the gospel of Jesus Christ’s atoning death, glorious resurrection, and coming kingdom. Be defined by that message. Preach that and let everything else come second.
Prosperity Jesus is the Jesus you hear about on the 90s televangelist shows. Where pastor pick out small scriptures in the Bible and use it against the most vulnerable people in society. They promise that Jesus is going to give them a miracle but have no real backing to this claim.
Prosperity Jesus is a wicked version, preying both on the poor to collect their money and causing disappointment and ruin when the promised prosperity doesn’t materialize. The real Christ doesn’t promise private jets and vacation condos, but offers the presence of God in the midst of difficulty in a fallen world. What’s more, the Christ of Scripture offers a much better future return on investment than the short-term bling of earthly kingdoms.
Best Friend Jesus
Best Friend Jesus is one you probably know well. There is some truth to Him - He is the friend of all, including the broken and the sinners. However the BFF Jesus stereotype doesn't dive deeply into who Jesus really is, and instead is just a buddy we can all hang with.
BFF Jesus is a Jesus who fits well with our culture of narcissism. He approves, without reservation, our lifestyles and behaviors and is safe for the whole family. This is a very surface-level way of looking at Jesus. It gives offers us little preparation for what He can really do for us during difficulty and hard times, because it doesn't help us to build a real, sustainable relationship with Him. Jesus is more than just a fun friend, He’s a Savior.
Jesus died on the cross so that Christians would have a way to ask for forgiveness of our sins, and one day enter the eternal kingdom in heaven. We were blessed with the opportunity to lift the weight of each sin off of our shoulders. Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we could live again.
While He gave us a way to cleanse ourselves, that doesn't give us the right to run around and commit sins whenever we want. When we go against His Word and turn our backs against Him, it breaks His heart. Jesus isn't passively allowing us to commit evil and wrongdoing on this earth. He gave us a way out, but as Christians that mean we should still avoid sin. Jesus is a Savior, not a free ticket into heaven.
God did not die on the cross so that we could live comfortable and convenient lives. When trials, suffering or any type of hardship hits our perfect Christian lives, we automatically think Jesus is going to get right to work to fix it for us. Because that hardship would never come from Him, right?
The truth is we are never going to live in a world where there isn't sin, and therefore we are going to run into problems in our life. Jesus might not go out and fix those problems for us right away. He might instead use them as a tool to teach us a lesson. There is a bigger plan for our future, and each situation we go through is for a reason even if we don't understand it at the time. As the heat of these issues rise, don’t fall away but grab hold the hand of Christ instead.
Money, cars, kids, a house and a dog all sound like a part of the typical American household. However is that all we’re living for these days? Are you one of the people who is only focused on gaining material possessions to show off to your friends? While success is great, it's not the only thing we should be focusing on.
Jesus isn't a magic genie that is going to grant you every wish you may have. No matter how badly you want that new car, worshipping Jesus more in an effort to get it won't do you any good. He has a much bigger destiny for you that will give you more meaning and purpose than any material thing would. Christians are called to impact culture for the Kingdom of Heaven, not to live for material gain. The Bible says seek first the Kingdom of God not riches.
The Real Jesus
Jesus is God's only Son. Through His suffering and death, He paid completely for the sins of all who believe in Him. He set us free from the certain judgment and eternal condemnation of God that was to fall on all of us. He gave Christians the opportunity to go to Heaven and live an eternal life.
Jesus is someone that we can rely on in times of darkness, because He provides us with hope. He was perfect and sinless. He is someone that can perform amazing miracles, or has to let bad things happen for a greater purpose. Jesus will provide you with everything you need to survive this life, and we should do our best to live our lives out like He once did. By studying the Bible, you get to know who the real Jesus is and how you can be more like Him.