Our local deity is not Jesus. He goes by the name Jesus. But in reality, our local deity is Jesus Jr.
Our little Jesus is popular because he is useful. He makes us feel better while conveniently fitting into the margins of our busy lives. But he is not terrifying or compelling or thrilling. When we hear the gospel of Jesus Jr., our casual response is “Yeah, that’s what I believe.” Jesus Jr. does not confront us, surprise us, stun us. He looks down on us with a benign, all-approving grin. He tells us how wonderful we really are, how entitled we really are, how wounded we really are, and it feels good.
Jesus Jr. appeals to the flesh. He does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him. He is not able to understand them, much less impart them, because Jesus Jr. is the magnification of Self, the idealization of Self, the absolutization of Self turning around and validating Self, flattering Self, reinforcing Self. Jesus Jr. does not change us, because he is a projection of us.
It is time to tear down Jesus Jr. It is time to rediscover the real Jesus. Still today, even to us, his invitation stands: “Come to me” (Matthew 11:28).
On a personal note, once in our pastors’ gospel group, Ray shared about “his friend Jesus.” It was one of the most riveting, impactful, Spiritual moments I’ve ever experienced. Ray described what Jesus looked like, how he laughed, his facial mannerisms, his personality, etc. Yes, it was “imaginary,” but it came from a man who walks with Jesus daily, so closely in fact he could tell you his height in feet and inches. (Twelve feet tall, by the way. It was a great moment and the rest of us were in awe. Ray’s Jesus is no Jesus Jr.