The 21st Century Jesus - Really?

The 21st Century Jesus - Really?

Is buddy Jesus the 21st Century symbol of the Messiah?

Is buddy Jesus the 21st Century symbol of the Messiah?

Of all the images that I see getting scattered around on social media, I think I can safely conclude this is the predominant image of Jesus for the 21st Century. He is a little silly and vaguely surreal. He approves everything you want him to. Most importantly, he’s pointing at you, thus fulfilling the desires of the multitudes to be singled-out by a celebrity. 

While this may be the predominant version of Jesus there are many other Jesus’ out there. Don’t believe me? Keep reading. 

How many Jesus’ are there?

Probably more than you think. Here is a short list:

I could go on and on and on…

Everybody Gets a Jesus!

There seems to be a “version” of Jesus for everyone and for every ideology or worldview. It seems kosher to borrow Jesus as a poster boy to legitimatize, well, whatever. There is a fantastic book called The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America. It historically chronicles the borrowing of Jesus’ image for the purpose of power, progress, and pride. Without a doubt, if you had Jesus on your side you might have a puncher’s chance of winning whatever battle you were fighting.

I borrow from a Kanye West that many forgot had once existed:

I ain’t here to argue about his facial features
Or here to convert atheists into believers
I’m just trying to say the way school need teachers
The way Kathie Lee needed Regis that’s the way I need Jesus
— - Kanye West in Jesus Walks

I want to remind you that I am not interested in arguing about the legitimacy of any of the “Jesus’” one could look at. I am determined, however, to say that oft times we Christians find ourselves dangerously close to minimizing Jesus to the level of a golden calf.

“But Josh, are you saying that we are breaking the second commandment when we worship Jesus!?!”


I Just Want to Know Jesus. 

If your Jesus stands more for your political beliefs than as sovereign God that rules over just and unjust then I would say, yes, you are breaking that command. Don’t take my word for it, though. Maybe you should ask Jesus if you are making him a mere idol. He would know better than I.

I, like many, just want to know Jesus and know the Father. But since my heart is an idol factory I have a tendency to make Jesus what I want to make him and to make the Father what I want him to be (it is odd that I don’t ever wish the Holy Spirit to be anything in particular, though, I could see some wish Him being a spiritual Red Bull that gives supernatural wings).  I ask him to bless my life, my family, and my work while I forget that as a Christian I have surrendered all those things to Him. My should be replaced with His - in the possessive sense. I fail at this often.

I may not know what Jesus looks like, for real. I probably wouldn’t recognize him walking down the street. But I know he forgives when we mess up. I know that because the Bible said he would.  I know that because I have experienced the feelings of being forgiven.  I know that I can repent of my Build-a-Bear Jesus creating and he will forgive me. I don’t have to make that up. I don’t have to add that to the list of characteristics. I can trust that because Jesus said it.

Jesus, forgive me for making you what I want you to be and not letting you be who you really are.


About the Author | Josh Schaidt
I love cookies and I still buy music one album at a time. Started @EmptyChurch for you.

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This American Church
A place for exploring the Church in the American context. Issues may get political, cultural, and philosophical — but it’s always personal.

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