Jesus is Not a White Republican from Tennessee; Thoughts on the Danger of a Custom-Made Jesus
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…’” – Genesis 1:26
The Bible makes it clear that we are made in the image of God. This means that we are to be image bearers of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are to be like Christ by conforming to His image (Romans 8:29) and submitting to His will for our lives (Romans 12:1-2). But the problem in American Christianity is the fact that instead of being “image bearers,” oftentimes we have become “image makers.” Instead of conforming to the image of Christ, we have molded Jesus into our own image.
Whether intentional or not, all of us develop a certain “Christian worldview” for our lives, and developed within that worldview is our comprehension and understanding of who Jesus Christ is. This understanding of Christ ought to be based upon what God reveals to us in the Scriptures. But unfortunately, this is not always the case. Instead, sometimes we have a tendency to mentally conjure up a “Jesus” that looks, thinks, and acts like us. This inclination should not surprise us considering the fact that we are more comfortable around those like us. It is so easy to fall into the trap of developing your own “personally designed Jesus.” But Jesus does not exist for your glory and for your good pleasure. Rather you exist for His glory and His good pleasure (Psalm 149:4, Philippians 2:13).
Allow me to illustrate; let’s say you have a sinful habit and you have yet to experience victory over that particular sin. If you are not careful, you might gradually begin justifying that sin. It might be that you have become so accustomed to that particular sin that you have convinced yourself that the Lord understands and overlooks the sin…After all, Jesus was once a man, He understands your struggle. Right??? Wasn’t He tempted in every way just as we are (Hebrews 4:15)?
Yet there is something radically wrong with this viewpoint of the Scriptures. It can lead you down a tunnel where you end up justifying your sin because you have gradually changed your understanding of the one who justified you from sin! What must be remembered is that Jesus is not what we “feel” Him to be. He is not what we “wish” Him to be. He is not what we “make” Him to be. He cannot be molded, shaped, or fashioned by us. He is the great I Am (Exodus 3:14) and does not change (James 1:17).
Consider a few more examples. It might be personal preference. Some Christians have convinced themselves that Jesus prefers a particular style of worship music. Others have convinced themselves that a particular translation of the Bible is the only translation. Or it might be political in nature…I have heard people suggest that Jesus is a member of their party! Or maybe it is simply a sinful habit…some people want Jesus to accept their materialistic ways and try to convince themselves that Jesus is okay with their spending habits. This tendency could even manifest itself culturally or racially; when you visualize heaven, do you picture people that look and sound just like you, or do you visualize people of every tongue and nation worshiping the Lord?
Let’s be careful not to conjure up a “custom made” Jesus who looks just like us. Instead let’s submissively conform to His likeness. Make a commitment today to an image bearer and not an image maker!
– Pastor Eric