IMAGINARY JESUS Dave Gipson
August 21, 2014 By Dave Gipson 3
Last Spring, I did a series of sermons called JUST JESUS. In it, we explored who Jesus really was what he did and what he taught. A lot of
fake ray bans churches do a series on Jesus like this leading up to Easter Sunday, which I think is great. There’s a hunger in some people to be introduced to the real Jesus, even if that means he requires them to change. But as a pastor today, I find these people to be the "exceptions to the rule".
Most people I meet talk about Jesus with great affection or respect. The problem comes when they keep talking, because the man they describe bears little resemblance to the Nazarene mentioned in Scripture.
What people have done is what the movie studios do to super heroes they are constantly "re imagining" them. For example, when I was a kid, Batman was Adam West. He was silly, over the top, and wore tights. Actually, he has already been re imagined from a comic strip then, and went on to get a darker treatment by director Tim Burton and then an even darker take by Christopher Nolan.
The problem with this is simple Jesus was not an imaginary character. He was not Zeus or Hercules, or Brer Rabbit or My Little Pony. He was an historical person, living in a distinct time and culture. We know this not only from the Bible, but also through the verification of outside non Biblical sources. Whether or not you believe He is God is a matter of faith, but who He was historically is pretty well defined.
As far as what He taught, we have the Bibleperiod. Sure, there were a few other "gospels" written by unverifiable sources and rightly never considered part of the canon of Scripture. One quick read of them tells you how ridiculously fanciful they are. The only trustworthy record we have of what Jesus really taught is found in the Bible, and the four Gospels reveal portraits of a man painted by different artist but clearly referencing the same man.
So how do people end up believing in a Jesus who, by all appearances, was not the man who walked and taught in the Judean countryside 2000 years ago?
Wishful thinking, I guess. Mankind has this arrogant tendency to try to "create God in our own image". That’s why I believe we have so many different religions and pictures of God, most of which are telling people exactly what they want to hear.
Some tell people how perfect they are without changing a thing, how they are really gods themselves in need of only a minor pep talk. Their god never disapproves of their
discount ray bans actions, but is only there to "affirm them" and make them feel good about themselves. Imagine Stuart Smalley in Biblical garb.
Some people’s god appeals to their own pride, encouraging them to perform certain "religious tasks" that will impress him. These are the legalistic religions of the world with a god who has no desire for relationship with people, but
replica ray bans only their adherence to a laundry list of rules. By following the rules, these believers puff up their pride in themselves since they are not like the dirty infidels and pagans around them. Imagine Hannibal Lecter in a cheap suit.
discount ray bans Jesus we see in the Bible never fit in to either the category of the "hippy guru" nor the "warrior prophet". He was infinitely above and beyond them both, while embodying the best qualities of the two. To the downtrodden and hurting, He was a loving personal savior who sought to heal and restore them. To those who were destroying their lives and others through sin, He was a pure and holy man who urged the adulterous woman to "go and sin no more". And to all of us racked by sin, on the cross He was the sacrificial Lamb of God who died in our place, and ultimately overcame the sting of death in His resurrection.
"That’s all well and good," some would say, "but that’s not what I’m looking for". Some want a god who ignores their sin while harshly judging others who might sin against them. They really want a god who will worship them instead of the other way around they want a god who thinks their character flaws are really just precious eccentricities. Imagine your grandfather, with ice cream.
I try to explain to them that who they’re imagining is simply not the Jesus of the Bible. They nod as if they understandand then completely ignore it. Their mantra appears to be, like the song we learned in childhood but only different, "Jesus loves me, this is ALL I WANT to know".
The danger is that if you worship a jesus not found in the Bible, you are in fact worshipping a myth. You might as well bow down to Batman, or pretend to use the Force like a Jedi warrior. Without the Bible, we have no other substantial source for what Jesus really taught and what He did, other than a few very sparse historical footnotes. Still we treat Him as if He’s just your garden variety super hero, and we imagine we’ve bought the rights to Him and can now reimagine Him into whomever we choose.
So who is your jesus? Is he "silly 60s jesus", "Burtonesque Emo jesus", or "dark knight jesus"?
But exactly who do we think we are that we should reimagine God Himself?
Jesus dealt with the same frustration in His day, with different religious groups whining for Him to conform to their "image". In Matthew 11:16, He complained, "But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions, and saying, ‘We played the flute for you and you did not dance, we mourned to you and you did not lament.’"
In other words, Jesus says, "You’re mad at me that I won’t just dance to your own tune, and grant you cart blanche for how you wish to live". While he didn’t use these exact words, I think His basic response to them and us is "toughtoo bad".
If you want to know Jesus, He is here for you right now. But know that you must let Him be who He really is. If not, you’re just talking to your own personal super hero.
Really, you’re just talking to yourself.
LEGACY CHURCH Dave would love for you to join us this Sunday, as he talks more about the real Jesus. See you 10:30am at Gulfview Middle School in downtown Naples!
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