Your own personal Jesus

Rick Cole

Rick Cole

“Your own personal Jesus.” Remember that song? Maybe you’ve heard it back in the day by Depeche Mode, or more recently by Johnny Cash, a version (which was pretty good).

Anyway, did it ever make you think that in some way we all come up with our own personal Jesus? Humor me and try this for a minute while your reading this article.

Let’s say Jesus himself is living physically in our place and time. You see him coming into the Student Union. What’s he look like? What’s he wearing? What’s in his iPod? (assuming he has one). You could probably think of things. What is scary is how much he might look like us. That for me would mean that Jesus would be a short, bald guy listening to classic rock (pretty scary, right?). It’s probably different for you. But in some way, the way we see Jesus reflects the dominant values that we hold.

In fact, a guy named Durkheim said as much. As far as I can understand him, he said that a society takes its values that it deems most important, creates symbols that represent them and, in turn, begins to worship them or project them onto God (the sociologists are going to get me for over- simplifying things, so forgive me). As an example, Durkheim said that “western Christianity is no more that a religionizing of capitalist culture.” Ouch! But you know, I think in many ways he is right. And I’m a Christian guitly of those very things. I know that I have created my own personal Jesus.

What are we to do. In his book “Blue Like Jazz,” author Donald Miller tells of a group of Christians at Reed College in Portland, Ore., setting up a confession booth and confessing those terrible things that have been done when people create their own personal Jesuses. So for my part at least , as a Christ-follower, I apologize for projecting my own ideas, ideals and preferences onto Jesus.

For those of you who are not Christ-followers, please accept this apology for things done in his name which don’t reflect who he is at all. The corrective for what Durkheim calls the “totemizing”of Jesus is to let the New Testament be our corrective.

Here is the one who confronts corrupt leaders and cares for the poor. The one who taught love for God and love for our neighbor, for our enemies and strangers, for the outcast and the alien. The one who said blessed are the peace-makers. The one who died for the sins of the world and rose again. Let’s follow and learn his ways and live by his example, and not our own personal Jesuses.

Brookings Christian Church on campus. Minister with Christian Campus Ministry at SDSU. 692-9203

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#1.884628:3204096272.jpg:rickcole02.jpg:Rick Cole, Religion Columnist: