Got Jesus? Nope.

In a distressing oversight for which I have no excuse, I do not keep a gallon of Jesus sitting in my refrigerator.

“Got Jesus?”

Jesus is not something that we own, but a Person whom we know. Breakfast, original watercolor by Steve Henderson

Jesus is not something that we own, but a Person whom we know. Breakfast, original watercolor by Steve Henderson

I’m sure you’ve seen it, Quasi-Christianity’s not so subtle attempt to mimic an overworked slogan of corporate dairy interests. It’s not surprising, given the blend of church culture with business, that what we see on TV one day, we read on a church LED board the next. I recently passed billboard that asked, “Need prayer? Text (777) GodLuvU and our caring worship staff will pray for you.”

It would be sad if it weren’t so . . . sad. I remember back in our church attendance days the pressurized discussions from leadership on why we needed this latest technology or that because, we learned via Powerpoint and charts and colorful graphs, today’s savvy, modern people demand this. If they walk into a sanctuary and see something old fashioned, like a book, say, they immediately leave, because the Modern Christian wants to worship in the Modern Way.

Guess I’m not an MC. I always kind of liked people, talking to them and getting to know them in an informal fashion without interference from a spiritual facilitator (leader), but this was not the way Jesus worked in the settings we endured.

How Jesus Works

How Jesus works, I learned in a recent article, is by being a material product, something I can grasp and hold and own, but only if I exhibit enough faith to do so:

“I’ve got Jesus.

“Oh, yes, I’ve got Jesus. He’s mine. I’ve got my sweet Jesus.” Just how one acquires this Jesus, which sounds more like a Precious Moments statuette or something to be ordered through Amazon or, the writer did not clarify, but given the incessant repetition of the theme —

“I’ve got Jesus. Jesus is mine. My sweet Jesus is my sweet Jesus mine,”

On the Beach ocean beach coastal painting of people walking

We get to know people by spending time with them, talking, asking questions, even disagreeing with one another. On the Beach, original oil painting by Steve Henderson

it must be possible, desirable, and necessary. The overall impression I received was that, for those of us who don’t associate the Son of God with an overworked advertising slogan, we are missing something in our relationship.

But there’s a problem about “getting” Jesus, not just limited to a lack of clear thought about what this phrase means. The problem with Jesus — actually, the really great thing about Jesus — is that He’s a person, like you and me, albeit a different sort of person in that we interact with Him on a spiritual, not physical (for now) basis.

Our means of knowing Him is just that: knowing Him, the same way we know the people around us whom we love. We spend time with them. We listen to what they say. We argue with them, as we try to understand their way of thinking, versus ours. We contribute to the conversation by talking about our fears, our desires, our wants, our hopes, our hurts, our anxieties. And Jesus, because He’s a good listener, listens to us, even though we frequently think He doesn’t because the things we ask for don’t happen the way we think we’d like.

The Real Jesus Listens

But in the Got Sweet Jesus world, our only hope in life doesn’t want to hear about our desires, wants, hopes, hurts, or anxieties, because He wants us to want Him so much, that nothing else matters. We become so spiritually At One with Him, that we no longer live, operate, think, or act like . . . human beings.

In place of asking Him questions, we are to just “love” Him; instead of going to Him with our deepest needs, we are to toss those aside as evidence that we “trust” Him; rather than struggle with our understanding of what He is like, we need to just “accept” Him, but the problem with this requirement is that we frequently don’t know who, or what, we’re accepting, especially if our primary, indeed, only, exposure to Him is what is taught in standard evangelical circles:

Jesus loves you, but only if you accept Him by following a specific series of steps. If you don’t — and there are millions and billions who don’t — then you head to hell, forever and ever and ever. But it’s not His fault, it’s yours, because by not following His rules, you’re showing that you don’t love Him enough, and there’s nothing He can do about that.

With an “understanding” like this, it’s no wonder that people are reduced to repeating a mantra, a mindless series of words that numb their mind into accepting the love of a person who doesn’t act anything near like an even nominally decent human person would act (and when this is pointed out, the inevitable response is: “But God’s ways are not our ways,” which is true, but only because His ways are supposed to be better than ours, not worse).

Jesus isn’t a product. He is not a gallon of milk. He is not reduced to a simplistic song or a bumper sticker slogan: He is a deep, complex, merciful, loving, accepting, gracious, incredible Person, and getting to know Him requires struggling with the misconceptions that we are taught about Him, misconceptions that we cannot see, analyze, questions, override, and get beyond when we can’t get beyond pagan babble:

“I love my Jesus, my Jesus mine, my sweet Jesus, so Divine — Don’t you love your Jesus too? If you don’t, what’s wrong with you?”

Thank You

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. If you like what you read, please pass me on via the social media buttons below.

“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” Matthew 6:7.

Posts complementing this one are

The Lost Christians of America

Is Jesus the (American) Way, Truth, and Life?

Does Jesus Get Mad When We Complain?





About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She writes about life, art, and the art of life.
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8 Responses to Got Jesus? Nope.

  1. Jewell Price says:

    Nicely written. I feel like Jesus has been reduced to those annoying posts on Facebook that say, “If you are not ashamed of the name of Jesus, share this post.” Pathetic. That’s not what loving Jesus is about. Our love for him is not revealed in how many times we “share” or “like” a religious post. Seems like that method is using manipulation and guilt.

    • I agree, Jewell — it’s a potent form of manipulation, pressuring people to act a specific way because if they don’t . . . well, Jesus will be unhappy because we’re acting “ashamed” of Him. There’s a lot of that on social media, not to mention public interactions like church services, and it is my prayer that those who want to know God better will do so by talking to Him directly, and trusting that He is able to teach them, gently and well, without outside interference.

      A lot of seeds have been sown in past years, instructing people that they don’t know best, and they need the help of an expert — be it an “expert” on God, politics, child rearing, education, nutrition, medicine, any aspect of daily life, really, and the bad fruit of that harvest is being reaped today. Too many people do not trust the intelligence, brains, and insight they have been given to make choices that are best for themselves and their families.

      • Laura Upton says:

        Carolyn, it is as if you are in my brain, writing my own thoughts here. I believe that Jesus came and sacrificed Himself for us because He is the only divine human that can be a sufficient intermediary for us, in every area of our lives. It is He who stands beside me where ever I go, when I am at my worst, when I am mediocre, and when I am at my best. I detest the magical thinking that our current culture deposits into His nature. Jesus is my best friend, with or without the church. I love Him personally, and no outside intermediary will make that bond stronger. Thank you so much. I feel as though I know you, too, and that you are my friend. I’m sure if we met in real life, I would like you very much. Keep writing, my sister, keep writing! Best regards, Laura Upton, Sugar Land, Texas

  2. Pingback: The Walt Disney World of American Christianity | This Woman Writes by Carolyn Henderson

  3. Laura Upton says:

    I am so thankful to have found your blog, Carolyn. I feel as if your writing is directed at me, personally. That is quite a wonderful and deep thing. Thank you for your bravery and honesty in putting this out there. I have always had mixed feelings, or down right negative feelings, with “the church.” I grew up in the Catholic church, then went to the other extreme in my early adulthood- the charismatic Pentecostal church. I never felt at home in either. It helps knowing that I am not alone. I relate to you and your writings more than I relate to the people in my current local church, which is a non-denominational Christian church. Again, thank you from the deepest part of my heart. I will continue to follow your blog posts and read all the others you have already written.

    • Hello, Laura. Thank you for your kind words. You are most definitely not alone — there are many, many, many of us — daughters and sons of God who feel ostracized in church settings that look like corporate business meetings (which, in a way, they are). It only makes sense that, in your desire for God, your pursuit for a meaningful relationship with him, that you do not fit into a setting that is concerned with rules and regulations, leadership classes, appropriate worship songs, schedules, outer trappings that eclipse meaning.

      We have been away from the establishment church for many years now, and our relationship with God continues to deepen and grow — it is so very odd how He teaches and leads. Your journey is an exciting one — difficult and frustrating at times, but as you look back and see the lies that you no longer believe, the people of influence who no longer have influence over you, you become awed and grateful. I find it most helpful to immerse myself in the four gospels — reading them over and over and over — and each time freeing myself more and more from the shallow platitudes about them which for so many years I was “taught.”

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