A few weeks back a friend of mine shared a book on Nook (nice app - you can share books for up to 14 days.) The book is titled Imaginary Jesus and is written by Matt Mikalatos. It's hard to classify the book. It's not really non-fiction. It's not a novel. One reviewer said it was C.S. Lewis meets Monty Python. Perhaps.
The book description on Amazon states this:
Since I haven't had the time to sit and read this book for hours on end, I'll probably end up purchasing it because the free 14-day borrow will end soon. I am about halfway through and I must say the concept of the imaginary Jesus is intriguing. It echoes things I have thought and said for years. I even find myself guilty of creating my own imaginary Jesuses at times.
As a believer, I stand firmly on the Word of God believing that it is inerrant and that the Jesus described within those pages is the authentic man (Son of God & God the Son.) Yet, culture has a way of leading us to re-create Jesus in our own image.
This has been the case for years. That's why the short Jewish man from Nazareth is depicted as a tall, very white, European man, sometimes with blue eyes, in many classic works of art. While it's easy for us to identify these depictions of Jesus to be wrong, it become more difficult to clearly see how the Jesuses we create are just as wrong.
Mikalatos introduces and describes many imaginary Jesuses in his book. You may recognize some of them.
- KJJ "King James Jesus" - This Jesus speaks only in King James English. There are many "thees" and "thous" coming from the mouth of this one.
- Harley Jesus - This one wears a leather vest and has a tattoo or two. He's not just a biker, he's a "holy roller."
- Liberal Social Services Jesus - This one has arms and legs and works hard to clean up areas and serve the community, but has no mouth. That's because he never says anything about why he does this. He just lives in the social gospel. There's also a Jesus on the other end that has no arms, but has a really big mouth. All he does is talk down to people, but never serves them.
- 8 Ball Jesus - This one is like the Magic 8 Ball toy that has been around for years. Ask this Jesus anything and he'll answer like the 8 Ball. It's all chance with fortune like answers.
- Patriotic Jesus - This Jesus is "red, white and blue" and loves America (more than any other nation) and basically wraps the flag around everything.
- Political Jesus - Yes, he's exactly what he sounds like. This Jesus is intent on changing the world by electing the "right" people into office.
- Testosterone Jesus - This is my favorite. This is the "men's retreat Jesus" who talks grunts like Tim Allen on Home Improvement and spouts lines from Braveheart whenever he gets the chance. "Free-e-e-e-e-e-e-dom!!!!" He also cries alot and tells men to be better husbands and fathers all the time (when he's not quoting Braveheart.)
- The Secret Society of Imaginary Jesuses - These guys are basically like the Jesus Seminar, only imaginary.
As I read (the portion I had the chance to) this book, I couldn't help but do a little self-evaluation. What Jesus have I created in my own image? Am I guilty of this?
Unfortunately, I believe I have been at times, and to be honest, so is just about every believer I have ever met. I guess since we are image-bearers of the Creator, we tend to create. It's just in this case, we create what we feel is right, but it's, oh, so wrong.
The authentic, biblical Jesus does not need to be recreated into our image or for our cultural acceptance. While we lament that many unbelievers truly do not know who Jesus is, the reality is that many church-attenders and "Christians" tend to see a Jesus who is not truly the real deal. Even true believers can slide into this.
So. . .who's your Jesus?
Is he one listed above? Is he the Patriotic Jesus, the Political one, or maybe the Liberal Social Services one? Maybe he's a mixture of some or a creation yet to be listed.
Stick with the real one. You can read Mikalatos' book. It's fun, but I recommend you spend more time in The Book. Read the Gospel accounts of Jesus (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.) The truth is there. It's evident who He is, what He came to do and what He is doing now. Don't settle for a cheap imitation.
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."