“Weird But True: If You Put Your Ear Up To The New Joel Osteen Book, You Can Hear Dozens Of Tortured Bible Verses Screaming In Pain” is but one of the many headlines and invented stories on the satirical website, The Babylon Bee. Some people love satire, and some hate it; we see it as a useful tool to make a point. It should be noted that even God Himself engages in satire from time to time as He does in Isaiah 44:12-18:
The man shapes iron into a cutting tool and does his work over the coals, fashioning it with hammers and working it with his strong arm. He also gets hungry and his strength fails; he drinks no water and becomes weary. Another shapes wood, he extends a measuring line; he outlines it with red chalk. He works it with planes and outlines it with a compass, and makes it like the form of a man, like the beauty of man, so that it may sit in a house. Surely he cuts cedars for himself, and takes a cypress or an oak and raises it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a fir, and the rain makes it grow. Then it becomes something for a man to burn, so he takes one of them and warms himself; he also makes a fire to bake bread. He also makes a god and worships it; he makes it a graven image and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire; over this half he eats meat as he roasts a roast and is satisfied. He also warms himself and says, “Aha! I am warm, I have seen the fire.” But the rest of it he makes into a god, his graven image. He falls down before it and worships; he also prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god.”
Framed in these terms, it is easy to see how ludicrous it is that he worships a false deity that he made himself! Human nature hasn’t changed since then, and although the materials may be (or may not be) different, creating one’s own customized deity is still a very popular practice today. And if you call your designer “god” Jesus, it is all the better because His name lends your god credibility. One of the satirical commercials we use on our YouTube channel’s “Unknown Webcast” is the “Designer Jesus Collection.”
If you want to practice mysticism, and give your religious observation God’s “Stamp of Approval,” you can embrace “Yoga Jesus.” If you don’t like the whole idea of holy living and accountability, why not embrace “Buddy Jesus,” who gives a “thumbs up” to whatever you are doing. If you’re a leftist, but still want a Jesus to lend you credibility, there is “Socialist Jesus.” You get the idea.
The obvious advantage of designing your own personal Jesus is that He looks and thinks remarkably like you. You have certainly heard people say that “My Jesus would never _______________.” Fill in the blank: judge anyone, condemn homosexual behavior, send anyone to hell, reject anyone’s religious ideas, expect fidelity in marriage, etc.—that would be intolerant. If you have created your own Jesus, of course your Jesus would do and think and approve exactly what you put into your design. Your Jesus is – YOU!
The various designs are generally supported by short, one-dimensional, out-of-context “snapshots” from Scripture (usually the Gospels), which appeal to the designer, while they ignore the broader picture contained both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament after Christ’s resurrection and ascension. Yes, Jesus did continue communicating from Heaven through the Apostles.
They also conveniently forget that the Jesus Who prevented the adulterous woman from being stoned is the same Jesus Who told her to “go and sin no more.” He is the same God Who gave the prohibitions against adultery, fornication and same gender sexual relations in the Old Testament and reiterated them in Paul’s writings. Paul also talks in Romans about the wrath of God (not a popular subject today), which
…is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. (Romans 1:18)
God’s wrath was against those who refused to acknowledge His existence and worshipped false gods instead.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.
They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:26-32)
Since this ugly accounting pretty well describes all of humanity, Jesus, speaking through the Apostle Paul is, as it turns out, pretty judgmental.
…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)
Unfortunately, the Yoga Jesus, Buddy Jesus, Socialist Jesus, Mormon Jesus, Watchtower Jesus, Muslim Jesus, or any other made-up Jesus can’t help any of us. They may be popular, they may be appear to be super tolerant, they may radiate false love, but they do not have the benefit of being the true Jesus, the One who died to save you from your sins. Paul warned the early church that some were already falling away from the faith to follow another Jesus:
For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. (2 Corinthians 11: 4)
Please, don’t fall for a phony Jesus, nor give these fakers any credence at all. We want the real Jesus. We need the real Jesus. Yes, we’re all sinners, but the good news is Jesus came to save sinners. But He won’t hide the truth from you, telling you pretty lies, giving you reason to suppose that you are A-OK in every way—a [mostly] good person who can save yourself if any salvation is necessary. Jesus is, as He said, the ONLY way to the Father.
Through His life, death, and physical resurrection, the real Jesus paid the penalty of our sin and rebellion. By simply calling on His Name (Romans 10:9-13), we are saved, and His righteousness is credited to our account. We are completely forgiven and will never come under condemnation.
…There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus… (Romans 8:1)
On the other hand, those who do not turn to the Lord Jesus and do not accept His gift of forgiveness but, instead, rely on some phony Jesus WILL stand before a Holy God and be judged for their sins. It is not a pretty picture. It’s called the Great White Throne judgment. You do not want to be there, and you don’t want anyone you love to be there either.Ω
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