Monday, September 1, 2008

Personal Jesus

There's a lot of talk in evangelical circles about personal relationships with Jesus. He wants to walk with you. He's your best friend. You need to have an intimate, personal relationship with him. Prayer is just like talking on the phone to your best friend. You can tell him anything. You get the idea.

And this is what we have created. Buddy Jesus.

This is not to say that we shouldn't have a personal relationship with Jesus. Not to say that he doesn't walk with us. Not to say that you can't tell him anything. But I wonder if what we have done is boxed him up, created a Jesus that is "the guy next door", created a Jesus... that works for us.

We've sanitized all the things we don't like. The wrath. The holy anger. The cross we're supposed to bear like him. The sacrifice that love demands. The suffering we're supposed to rejoice in. We've taken it all away and made Jesus a suburban Dad who likes to golf on the weekend and take his kids to Dairy Queen.

Now don't get me wrong, the God I believe in is a God of love and of compassion and of grace and has unlimited quantities of these things. But he's also pretty radical which doesn't always go over so easy in my cushion-filled life. Do we tend to focus too much on the overflowing love and not on the commitment/sacrifice factor? Probably. Love and mercy are a hell of a lot easier to sell that's for sure.

Not really sure if there is a conclusion to this but I simply wonder if maybe we have shot ourselves in the foot a little. We've pushed the "Buddy Jesus" to make Christianity more palatable and have forgotten to tremble in fear at his awesome might. I know there have been books like "Your God is Too Safe" and tons of Narnia quotes ("He's wild") but I still wonder if we really grasp something of God beyond him sitting in his pajamas, painting his nails while he listen to our laundry list of complaints. What do you think?


Michelle said...

Eric, do you believe that any other religious expressions are valid? I ask because I believe that God is God no matter what you call him and that there are many paths to Him. Therefore, I can't believe that "No one comes to the Father except through Me" because then I have to believe that all other faiths are wrong. Feel free to convince me otherwise.

The Renegade Librarian said...

A nice piece of writing, my friend!