The 21st Century Jesus - Really?
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:
- White Jesus (actually there are a ton of white Jesus’)
- Black Jesus
- Native American Jesus
- Tattoo Jesus
- Rebel Jesus (Link to Video)
- Submissive Jesus
- Feminine Jesus (fascinating journal article)
- Masculine Jesus or Jesus as a “Real Man”
- Nerd Jesus
- Fat Jesus
- Skinny Jesus (the one held up by all the people selling the latest health fads to the church)
- KKK Jesus
- Combat ready Jesus
- Short-haired Jesus
- Long-haried Jesus
- Gay Jesus
- The Baby Jesus (link to video)
- Homeless Jesus (and this one is good too.)
- Kanye West’s Jesus (article and video)
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 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.
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.
A place for exploring the Church in the American context. Issues may get political, cultural, and philosophical — but it’s always personal.