Do We Have An Idol Named Jesus?
By Shane Pruitt
Often, when we hear the word “idol,” we may think of little hand-carved figurines or ornate golden statues of Buddha. Of course, most of us don’t deal with idolatry of actual graven images, so we may be inclined to name some of our more modern functional idols: things like our spouse, our children, favorite sports team, our mobile devices, or even possibly ourselves. Ultimately anything in our lives that commands our attention or thoughts more than God has the potential to be an idol; even something good elevated to the place of the ultimate. . .constitutes idolatry. According to definition, an idol is, “Any image or representation of a god used as an object of worship.” But what if that representation of a god is “Jesus?”
Now, at face value, that seems like a blasphemous question to ask! Do we have an idol named Jesus? How would that even be possible? After all, like Thomas confessed, Jesus is God – “Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God (John 20:28)!” And, we’re told to worship him – “So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11).” So, how could Jesus ever be considered an idol? Well that’s the point, the Jesus of Scripture is not, and can never be an idol, because He is the true representation of God.
However, there are many times that we are not worshipping the Jesus that Scripture describes, but rather, a “Jesus” (quotations intentional) that we’ve created in our own minds. And that’s when we have an idol, named Jesus!
The Jesus of the Bible will regularly disrupt our lives, call us to difficult things, stand in opposition of our personal preferences, and often does the opposite of what we think He should. Let’s be honest, His holiness, His demand upon us to deny ourselves, and His commandments to love others can get pretty annoying in our pursuit of happiness, our indulgences, and our fine-art of “Looking out for #1.” So, our natural reaction to this is to shape Him into something more palatable to our personal opinions and preferences.
This is when an idol named Jesus is formed, because we don’t want to be created in God’s image, we want Him to be created in our image. We don’t want Him to be the one in control, we want to be in control. We don’t want Him to be the potter and for us be the clay, we want to be the potters and for Him be the clay our hands. We want to shape and mold our god to care about what we care about, we want to label Him as a Republican or Democrat, we want to picture Him as white, black, or brown, we want Him to be passionate about what we’re passionate about, we want Him to be angry about what we’re angry about, and we think He should tolerate what we would tolerate.
If this idea of what you’ve created Jesus to be is what comes to mind when you worship, pray, sing, lift your hands, give, serve, and live, then ultimately that is idolatry. It is the worship of some created idol that is a misrepresentation of a god, that you’ve just attached the name of Jesus to. It’s sinful on our part, because it’s not the true Jesus of the Bible that we’re worshiping.
Jesus said Himself that we must worship in “spirit and truth (John 4:24).” An accurate view of Him is absolutely necessary to authentic worship! So, who is this Jesus of the Bible? According to Colossians chapter one, He makes the invisible God – visible (v. 15a), He is the first-rank over all creation (v. 15b), all things were created through Him, for Him, and He is the One who sustains all things (v. 16 – 17), He is the head of the church (v. 18a), He is the first-rank over death by His resurrection (v. 18b), and in everything His to be preeminent (v. 18c). This means that Jesus surpasses all, ranks above all, and He deserves first place in everything. We’re not the boss, He is. We’re not the creator, He is. We’re not in control, He is! We’re not the potter, He is.
This is the Jesus of Scripture, so let us dive into His Word to discover who He is, and not rely on our own understanding – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).” Because, in knowing the real Jesus of the Bible, we’ll begin to be passionate about what He is passionate about, we’ll be angered by what angers Him, we’ll tolerate what He tolerates, we’ll view things the way He views things, and we’ll live how He lives. This is the kind of worship that transforms lives, because it’s worship directly towards the true and living Jesus!
At the end of the day, our opinions about Him doesn’t change who He is, ”Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).” However, our faith in Him will absolutely change who we are.
To view a video message on the same topic by the same author, check out “Do You Worship A Play-Doh god?”