Sometimes, I admit, I like watching crass movies, even though I know sometimes I shouldn’t. I'm not advocating for such an action, and the Lord's working on me, but sometimes I can find something relatable to our Christian walk in them. In one such movie, Talladega Nights: the Legend of Ricky Bobby, Ricky is around the table with his family, praying to “baby Jesus.” His wife and Father in law lay in to him about how upsetting that is, when it turns in to a discussion with his sons and best friend about the way they like to imagine their Jesus being. It was a cheap laugh, and one I’ve used as a silly sermon illustration quite often.
The sad part is, though, people treat the actual Jesus in a similar, unbalanced way. They want Jesus to be what they want him to be, someone to clean up their messes, someone to grant their requests, someone to affirm their choices, even if they’re not affirmed by God’s word. We want to make Jesus in to a personal pal, a buddy who gives us the attention we need, when we need it, and not the Lord of the Universe who we submit our entire lives to, even if that means sacrificing everything.
While I like the song, and it’s going to be stuck in my head all day, our own “personal Jesus” isn’t the Jesus of Scripture. Peter, upon entering the house of Cornelius, a gentile to whom he was forbidden to go to, saw, when they had received the Holy Spirit, that “God was not a respecter of persons.” He requires our obedience, and sent Jesus to die, who in turn sent us the Holy Spirit after He rose from the dead and entered Heaven, not to make us a better person, but to make us like Himself.
We’re to be Jesus’ ambassadors on earth, conforming to the image He designed us to be, not to have a personal version of Him that we can switch on and off as is convenient for us. Loved ones, Jesus died for our sins, not so we could go out and do what we want, but so that we can worship Him in Spirit and Truth, and live a life that gives glory to God while bringing others to Jesus Christ, who can in turn save them. The Jesus we imagine is not the Jesus of Scripture: our imaginations are too limited. Find Jesus in the Scriptures, and follow the REAL Jesus. And there, we’ll find all the promises of God waiting for us, even amidst trial, toil, and persecutions.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.