We tend to make Jesus in our own image.
Talladega Nights was on to something: we try to make Jesus the way we like.
But we don’t have a right to believe what we want about Jesus. All opinions about Him are not created equal. There’s only one historical Jesus, and a host of imagined ones.
Some people’s picture of Jesus is simply unhistorical, unbiblical, and dead wrong. Feeling strongly about our opinion does not change this.
Consider some of these false views of Jesus that we’ve invented because they make us feel good:
Jesus won people by accepting them unconditionally with no strings attached.
That may be our unbiblical model of friendship evangelism, but it was not Jesus’.
Jesus believed that motives matter more than behavior.
Be careful that we don’t impose our preoccupation with motives onto Jesus. He certainly was interested in our heart’s condition, but not at the expense of our obedience. Don’t use improper motives as an excuse to disobey.
Jesus showed that social action is more important than doctrine.
Read and Gospels to see how often Jesus corrects people’s view of God or Himself. Sound doctrine was central to Jesus’ earthly ministry.
Jesus condemned every brand of anger.
But Jesus Himself got angry (Mark 3 and 10). Paul commands anger without sinning in Ephesians 4. James cautions us not to get angry too quickly in James 1, but he doesn’t forbid anger altogether. And do you remember what Jesus did when He found money changers taking up space in the temple?
Jesus was opposed to religious leaders and organized religion.
Great example of making Jesus in our own image. Since many of us hold a distaste for religious institutions and their leaders, Jesus must have also. It’s not true. Jesus was a Jew; He was not opposed to organized religion. And He occasionally commended the Pharisees and Jewish religious leaders. Some even followed Him (Saul/Paul). Jesus was opposed to prideful hard hearts, not religious leaders.
Jesus’ message and ministry was positively embraced by everyone who heard it.
Do you remember how the story ends? For some reason we think that if we portray Jesus accurately to the unbelieving world, they will receive Christ. But Jesus presented Himself perfectly and they killed Him.
Jesus’ message was principally one of peace and love.
At one point Jesus explicitly denies that He has come to bring peace (Matthew 10), claiming that He will begin by bringing division. There will be peace and God is love, but the way these will look may surprise many Christians.
Jesus stressed numbers, always going where the people were.
Instead, Jesus actually turned down a teaching opportunity in front of a large crowd (Mark 1). He spent more time ministering to individuals than crowds. So should we.
Devote your life to following Jesus, and strive to figure Him out along the way. You will rarely find Him predictable. You will seldom find that He is like us.