Is Your Mental Pic of Jesus Accurate?

A couple years ago, I was making a film project for the church I attended at the time, and I reached out to a local actor I went to college with. My gut told me that he wouldn’t be a fan of being a part of a Christian production, so even though I fully intended to divulge the truth prior to filming, I held off as long as I could, hoping to intrigue him enough to do the project anyway. I know, very manipulative of me and not very Christian. Trust me, I don’t intend to be like that in the future in a similar situation.

The reason he turned me down, once he found out the production would be promoting Christianity, was because he didn’t believe in organized religion nor could he commit to something that was in favor of everything that went against his core beliefs. I respected that, because if it was vice versa, I wouldn’t take part in a project that was anti-god or too worldly. What cracked me up though, was that he said he did a lot of meditating, especially when he was high, and had many conversations with Jesus in a vision state. Jesus was a cool dude. A great teacher. According to him, Jesus was definitely a prophet, in a way of teaching humanity to connect to the divine-consciousness. Though the guy was down with Jesus, he was not down with the church.

Believe it or not, I wasn’t stunned by his answer. I heard off-the-wall things before. For instance, I knew a Mormon Wiccan, who spent some time in a mental hospital and he had several conversations with Jesus and the Devil, like all three of them at once had a long talk, and it turns out the Antichrist is a good guy, not a bad one, according to the Testimony of the Mormon Wiccan.

In our American society today, Jesus is a lot of things, but when an actual believer of Christ acts like Him or points out in scripture what Jesus actually stood for, many Americans and/or Western Worlders disagree, because the Biblical portrait of Jesus doesn’t fit their perception.

Like, here’s a fun one: Jesus was for socialism. Look at the early church, they shared everything! Sadly, I once promoted this very idea. I’m pretty sure God is against tyrannical governments taking advantage of people. If anything, God is okay with capitalism because His chosen people were often rich and successful wherever they went. There is a reason why false preachers can deceive people into believing in the Prosperity Gospel. From the Old Testament to the New Testament, scriptures that reference finances can easily be twisted and taken out of context. But since Abraham, many of God’s chosen people had money; the only ones that really didn’t were prophets, but they didn’t need wealth because they lived off the tithe and the offerings that God’s people brought to the temple as sacrifices. But if we sit here and attempt to debate whether or not God is for capitalism or for socialism, we’re missing the point. 

Jesus was fully man and fully God, which means we can’t make Him so relatable we lose touch with the reverence and awe we should have for Him. Jesus first and foremost was and still is about the Kingdom of God, which was and still is about living life to please God, our heavenly father, not building a life on earth to appease us. Jesus was for doing the right thing to honor God and to honor the people in your life. Considering Karl Marx was against religion and socialism only serves the elite few at the top, I think it is a bit of stretch to say Jesus was for socialism. He was after something better that we can’t fully achieve in this life and we only get a taste with Jesus as our Savior. He was after establishing God’s Kingdom, which is unlike any human system imaginable.

Another selfie of Jesus that is ultra popular: Jesus was a great teacher, much like the original Buddha. 

Apparently, the original Buddha told a parable about a mustard seed like Jesus did. Since Buddha came first, Jesus somehow was another Buddha or Jesus got it from Buddha… I’ve heard too many explanations to remember which it was. I love how no one acknowledges that Satan is real, that Satan mixes the truth with lies (read Genesis 3, where Satan as the Serpent deceived the first woman), that Satan would definitely use God’s precepts and principles to make people think they have the full truth when they got a tainted portion.

If Jesus was just a great teacher, then He was a liar. He said in John 14:6 that he was the only way to God the Father. That means following Buddha won’t get you to God at the end of this road you call your life, only Jesus will.

I got this truthful tip from Josh McDowell’s Book: More than a Carpenter. It’s a great book, whether you’re questioning if Jesus is real and if Christianity is legit, or if you’re a firm believer and you want to learn how to contend for the faith. It is immensely encouraging. Josh McDowell was an atheist until he was an adult and went on a quest to disprove that Jesus was the Son of God, but the evidence proved otherwise. 

Then there’s the age old debate about what Jesus looked like. Popular pic number three: Jesus was black.

Now, here me out, I’m a biracial woman: half black and half white. I’m actually not going to defend a blonde hair and blue-eyed Jesus (cause I don’t think that was really possible given his 

heritage, but hey… who knows), because what Jesus’ physical appearance was doesn’t matter. If it did, there would have been a description of what he looked like in the Bible. The closest we get to physical attributes of characters mentioned in the Bible is if it is relevant. Like Esau was also known as Edom, because he had red hair, he also birthed the Edomites through his bloodline. Perhaps their people were occasionally red-headed also, but we don’t know. Goliath was giant. Joseph was handsome (his master’s wife wanted to seduce him because he was so handsome, which makes sense because Egyptians were obsessed with beauty, and when he refused to sleep with her, she accused him of rape). Esther was mega beautiful and meek. You get the point. Not once does the Gospel explain what Jesus looked like on the outside, and the reason should be a no-brainer. God doesn’t care what you look like on the outside, He cares about your heart and the choices you make. Plus, if we knew what Jesus looked like, imagine how many people would worship a shrine or a statute, instead of living for Christ? 

The reason why people argue that Jesus was black is because of a social justice agenda, not a Gospel agenda. People claim Jesus was oppressed by the white Roman power and their racism kept him marginalized. They use black Jesus as reason to worship God differently or segregated from white believers. The true portrait of Jesus is skewed to address earthly issues and to tackle current events. Black Jesus does nothing to uphold and affirm the eternal promise Christ gave dying for sins and making us righteous before God while we were still sinners.

Acknowledging historical evidence to theorize what Jesus might have looked like isn’t a sin, but using the historical evidence of what Jesus looked like to tackle injustices against Black Americans in the 21st century is for sure missing the mark of the true intention of the Gospel.

A growing popular pic of Jesus which I really dislike is: Jesus is love!

What do I mean by this? Of course, Jesus is love, because scripture in 1 John says God is love. God first loved us so we could love Him in return. Jesus was sent because God so loved the world that He wanted to SAVE US. Yes, Jesus is love.

But this “love” evangelicals in America refer to is more like a close cousin of the ugly beast known as “tolerance” than real, godly love.

This really could be an article all on its own, but Jesus’ love was not how American Christians portray His love today. Here in America, we say things like, “Come as you are to Christ” and then we don’t provoke the newcomer to Christ to change, because the minute we try to guide them to put the Bible in action, we’re being “too judgmental”. Maybe it was okay when youth pastors and leaders let boys and girls dress like gangsters and MTV back up dancers, because “the youth must express themselves”, but this laxed attitude, saying “No matter what you’ve done, Jesus loves you,” has birthed a generation of lost saints that now affirm and accept practicing LGBTQIA+, seeing them as acceptable, living sacrifices to God?! [My editor worded what I said like this: Maybe it was okay when youth pastors and leaders let boys and girls dress like gangers and MTV back-up dancers, because “the youth must express themselves”, but this laxed attitude, saying “No matter what you’ve done, Jesus loves you,” and not encouraging sanctification has birthed a generation of lost saints that now affirm and accepte practing LGBTQIA+, seeing them as acceptable, living sacrifices to God, completely skewing the intent of the Gospel.]

Now it is hard to hear what I’m saying by the poor example that I gave. Clearly, monitoring behavior and dress code isn’t successful in discipling young believers, nor the point. But hip, woke pastors are too busy trying to be popular and relevant to preach the Gospel– service after service, or to deeply teach the Word, so that the congregation can be convicted and stirred by the Holy Spirit and led to live holy lives and make themselves living sacrifices unto God. Getting consistent, solid preaching is important because when a youth pastor and/or leader goes up to one of their youths and has a conversation about how they’re dressing (if it is completely inappropriate), the student will have a repentant heart and be able to understand their youth leader isn’t trying to control them or take away their freedom of expression, but inviting them to live a life set apart from culture of the world. I’m pretty sure the cool Christian graphic tees we have now are because some believer out there was convicted about the things they wore, and wanted cool clothes but also wanted to honor Jesus, and who knows, maybe they’re well off for it now. 

I could spend forever on this topic, but Jesus was and still is, the Son of God, Savior and Lord to believers, the Lamb of God, Lion of Judah, a teacher, a prophet, but mainly the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament and accounted for in the Gospels, whose death is recorded in history by secular historians, and who rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, is coming back again one day to set up God’s throne on the earth. Don’t take my word for it, read the Bible!

Yes, Jesus was and is for God’s people. Yes, Jesus was and is a great teacher. Yes, Jesus probably wasn’t white. And yes, Jesus is love. But God loves us so much He refuses to let us stay the same.

My brother is fostered by my mother. He came from a terribly abusive home. His childhood abuse gave him anxiety, depression, PTSD, anger issues, and his former raising taught him selfishness and how to mistreat people, especially those he cared about. However, if we don’t encourage him to get help for his mental health issues, and teach him healthy coping mechanisms that will cause him to treat others around with love, compassion, and kindness, he won’t make it as an adult in the real world. We need to teach him how to respect people. We need to help him learn how to control his anger and how to manage it in a way that won’t hurt others or himself.

When we first come to Christ, we’re a lot like my brother. Being born to sin and living in a fallen world, life has left us damaged and selfish, twisting our minds to misconstrue real love, therefore we don’t know how to give it. Like the loving parent He is, God takes us in, and with His balanced mixture of grace and discipline, His love transforms us. We learn how to love God, and then we learn how to love others, but the key is we are not the same person we were when we first came to Christ, or at least we shouldn’t be.

Jesus judged Jews all the time for missing the mark. Jesus ignored gentiles most of the time because His focus was on God’s people at the time, which were Jews. Jesus solely cared about doing what pleased God. And again, don’t misinterpret what I’m saying here. We see all throughout the Gospels Jesus was moved by love and compassion towards people. I just really want to emphasize it is important we remember that we must constantly consult scripture to see who Jesus was and still is, before we adopt a belief about Him and use that adopted view of Jesus to spread the Gospel. We never want to sign someone up for Christ Jesus under false pretenses. Granted, there is grace if we didn’t know better at the time, and ultimately, the Holy Spirit is responsible for pointing to and affirming Jesus Christ to people. However, that doesn’t negate the fact we are messengers of the Gospel and Christ’s representatives on the earth. When we share about our Savior and our Lord, we need to show the right picture, whether we are sharing Jesus by how we live, or by what we say about Him, we need to be diligent to stay Biblical about Christ and not lean on our own mental picture.  

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