When Jesus Becomes An Idol

In Tough Questions by Antwuan Malone19 Comments

Wait, What? Jesus an idol?

For all you music lovers, No, I’m not talking about an American Idol (speaking of, don’t get me started on Pia Toscano’s untimely exit).

Jesus and American Idol. Ha. What would that be like? I wonder, could Jesus sing? Can you imagine Simon telling the Son of God, Creator of all things, He sounded karaoke or like a bad lounge singer? That He “shouldn’t quit his day job?” How might Jesus respond. Would he call the “heavenly hosts” that sang to the shepherds at birth? Or maybe he’d  blow them away” like he did that band of men in John18:6 — send Simon (or nowadays JLo, STyler, and RJ) flying backward with a sudden gust of wind.

Ah, the possibilities.

I digress.

Do you think Jesus could become an idol?

For, I don’t know, the last decade or so, there’s been change in the horizon, a rumbling in the way the world (or at least many an American) defines the cross-section of their life with Jesus’ life.  Check the research and you’ll find people don’t have a problem with Jesus. Our society likes what He taught, what He stood for, and the way He lived. So much so, more and more are willing to model their lives after His’ life and principles – His charity, His love, His respect for the everyman and the “least of these.”

Sounds great! At least on the surface. Following Jesus’ pattern for life is a large part of what being a Christian is about.

But our enemy is crafty, seeking any advantage to exploit. And the danger here is so subtle, so feel-good, we will likely miss it.

The other day I heard a discussion about the “emergent church” and I caught wind of a statement declaring people of all religions could find God through following Jesus’ model of living. That is to say, regardless of the God you serve, your ability to love your neighbor as yourself (which, in doing means you are loving God, whatever his name might be in your religion) then heaven’s gates await.

[pullquote2 align=”right” variation=”mossgreen”]In essence, many have, perhaps without realizing, placed ideals like morality, philanthropy, charity, and general goodwill on the right hand of God’s throne in place of the Suffering Lamb and the saving power of the cross.[/pullquote2] There’s a bunch I disagree with there. But the core from where all my disagreement stems is the idea of Jesus’ life being key to “salvation” (a term I disdain more and more by the day).

Here is where we need to watch our steps. We must be careful not to construct an immaterial graven image of Jesus’ works. An idol to bow down to, to put our faith in, in lieu of the grand moment of God’s love on the cross. It seems the number of people willing to put the cross aside, to relegate it to second place in the order of importance, is increasing at an alarming rate.

To serve Jesus’ life without proper regard to the meaning of his death is to make Him a role model, not a savior. To accept that Jesus carved a way of life we should emulate without realizing the power source of such a life – the Holy Spirit – is to place the fate of our eternity in our own hands. Which, by the way, is what placed us in our current predicament. In essence, many have, perhaps without realizing, placed ideals like morality, philanthropy, charity, and general goodwill on the right hand of God’s throne in place of the Suffering Lamb and the saving power of the cross.

This is fallacy!

And do not follow the extreme reactions of the current day and start to think I am saying life here and now does not matter.  That is not at all what I am saying. But I am saying that Jesus’ death means far more than Jesus’ life.  I serve God, and have understood the Love of God, because of the amazingly bittersweet nature of Christ’s death. His life, inspired and perfected as it was, comes after that.

Should we reverse these roles, and allow the cross to play second fiddle, we will open up a works-based theology that, while on the surface feels good, will remove the need for Christ and cut the power cords of the cross.  We don’t need Jesus for philanthropy and charity. Look around, Christians are the only ones “with a heart” for the poor and needy. We’re all capable of charity. We do need Jesus for a relationship with God! A relationship we are made to engage in.

Don’t idolize the life of Christ. Following Christ comes after Faith in Christ. Let’s not get it twisted.

 

Do you think that it’s possible to idolize Jesus?  Explain.

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Antwuan Malone is a Ministry Director at ELEVATE Young Adult Ministry (elevateministry.net) where empowers young adults toward Christian leadership. He is passionate about seeing young adults take their place in church history by drawing near enough to God to hear his call on their life, and courageously living in obedience to that call.
19 comments
Jesuslovesyou
Jesuslovesyou

Yes it's possible to idolize him I know this since I have through thinking he won't forgive me

T
T

God is the creator of all things not the son Jesus. Following the life of Jesus is the right way, you are proposing we have faith in a man not god. You are idol using Christ while saying that we should not emulate his teachings. Ha, the devil has consumed your mind. Which is why you watch American idol in the first place. You have and will always idolize man. Jesus said that many will come in my name saying I am the Christ and they will deceive many. Calling yourself Christian is breaking the first commandment. Stop your idol worship now.

Spackmanjackman
Spackmanjackman

I believe that too much weight is placed on being 'saved' through intellectual belief in Jesus' death and resurrection in some circles. The early Christians rarely had cause to attempt to prove the validity of Christ's defeat of death as there were many resurrection stories in ancient times. Their aim was simply to be followers of 'The Way'. Pete Rollins wrote an interesting article claiming that the Biblical view of belief was a matter of the heart, not the head. http://peterrollins.net/?p=2864. Believing in Jesus is as much an action as it is a thought. But I definitely see your point Antwuan.

ridingacross
ridingacross

"I guess I mean it more in the Biblical, Old Testament understanding of idol... as in, serving something other than God. " Under that definition then it is not possible to Idolise Jesus, who is of course God. Though as said, it is possible to make little golden idols out of bits of Jesus, if you like, and go about serving them instead. "Our society likes what He taught, what He stood for, and the way He lived" As you say, some people like the bits that they like already, put their ideals in the Lords mouth, and no more than that. Only regenerated believers will take the whole of His sayings, hard or otherwise, and like them, and even then it takes some work on the Lords part for that to happen - the bits about us being evil sinners, dead in our sins, headed for hell without Him, that kind of thing. "I caught wind of a statement declaring people of all religions could find God through following Jesus’ model of living." Which is a perfect example of ignoring the bits that don't suit you.....of ignoring pretty much everything actually. Right now i'm not sure that we can or should make a sharp distinction between the Lords living, and the Lords dying: the one gloriously paid for our sins, but that would still only leave us with a blank slate, as it were. Being forgiven only, would not make us Righteous in the Lords eyes as we are still sinners. It is His perfect life of complete obedience to the Law imputed to us that allows God to declare us fully Righteous; that allows Him to look upon us as having never been sinners at all, but having had all of us the perfect life of an unfallen creature. So there really is no separation as it appears to me now.....they are completely involved.

Mel
Mel

Yes, when we allow our works to be our faith or the basis of faith, we've missed the mark. It's important to live like Christ, as much as we are able to as humans, but we can't let that over shadow our faith IN HIM and why He died for each and everyone of us. Some good points and questions. I haven't ever thought of Jesus as an idol but I can see that. Blessings, Mel Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

@lisa_dawn1
@lisa_dawn1

Well Nate, I'm kind of surprised at your response to my comment. I was really agreeing with Antwuan's post. And as I said right at the beginning, Jesus life did show us how to live and love. I definitely agree that Christian's should live a life as Christlike as possible. I didn't at all mean to imply that we should diminish Christ's life, an example of a life that pleases God. I don't think we should acknowledge Christ's death, and then live however we previously did, or however we want to. But I agree with with Antwuan that if the main focus of our lives, is "doing good works", then we are missing a huge part of the gospel message. We begin to rely on ourselves and our good works to get to heaven , and that is not the way. Grace is the only way I'm getting there, not whatever I have done here on earth. That's my thoughts.

M. Smith
M. Smith

If you look at the definition of idolize (Admire, revere, or love greatly or excessively) then I think yes we can idolize Jesus and its okay. What gets me is when people try to pimp out Jesus, use him for their own purposes. So many pick and choose to pull out the "what would Jesus do" card when it suits them. I like your point about his death meaning more than his life. For those that put so much emphasis on his life I wonder about their willingness to truly follow the path his life took right up until the end. That is be willing to give their own life - figuratively and literally - for others, especially undeserving, unworthy, and (in many cases) ungrateful.

@lisa_dawn1
@lisa_dawn1

His life does show us how to live and love, but it is His death that is the takeaway. The rest is just good behavior. Works do not only, not encourage relationship with God, it encourages relying on self. His life is definitely worth notint but it's His death that we should focus on.