And here we are getting at the root of the matter. A Jesus who does not look like us, doesn’t talk like us, doesn’t dress like us, and lives according to a different culture is alien to us. He is very hard to identify with. Instead of changing ourselves into an image more like his which requires hard work and not a little imagination, it is so much easier to mentally change him into the image of ourselves. And this domestication of Jesus if taken to an extreme (for instance with the Aryan Jesus concept) becomes in fact idolatry— the attempt to recreate God in our own image. But for most of us, it never goes that far. We just desperately want Jesus to be approachable, someone we could actually imagine emulating.
This is from Ben Witherington III’s blog. When I read it, I thought of the reports that people seem to like Jesus (when they do polls and such), yet, they have a low view of the church. Whenever I see articles reporting that Jesus is held in high regard, I always ask myself, “What Jesus?” My feeling is that the people responding to these polls really haven’t taken time to know who Jesus is, or what He calls us to. If so, then they either wouldn’t hold in in such high regard, or they would be living a very different kind of life. I believe that Witherinton is right, we would rather change Jesus to match our image, than to change ourselves to match His. For us to match His image means that we too must take up a cross…..
While I believe that what I’ve written isn’t Witherington’s point in the article, I believe the tendancy to create a new Jesus based on our likes and our image (Jesus as my fishin’ buddy) should be explored.