American Jesus. Do you know him? I do. This is the Jesus I know. In more ways than I would care to admit, my American ideals have shaped my picture of Jesus. American Jesus looks, talks, and acts just like me. He is a middle class family man who loves to golf on the weekends. And American Jesus empathizes with my American problems.
But is this the real Jesus? I don’t believe so. American Jesus is a fake Jesus. And this is where many American Christians have bought a lie. Culture has duped us. Tricked us. We have come to think Savior Jesus and American Jesus are synonymous.
Savior Jesus and American Jesus are more enemies than friends. More like Batman and Joker than Batman and Robin. Unless we take off our American sunglasses and allow the Savior Jesus to influence our American ideals, we risk spending our lives serving a God who isn’t real.
So, I want to highlight some differences between American Jesus and Savior Jesus. Here are 8 statements American Jesus might make but Savior Jesus never would.
1.) I love all these denominations.
Can you imagine Savior Jesus stepping on the American church landscape today? Can you imagine the scathing words he would give to the church after seeing thousands of denominations? Especially after what he prayed in John 17.
And it is not the incalculable number of churches that would bother Savior Jesus. It is the prideful, arrogant mindset behind many of these churches. The reason for most denominations (and denominations within denominations) is the belief one group of people has it right and another does not. Pride. It’s the reason Satan was cast out of heaven. It is the root of every evil (James 3:16). And pride is the reason millions of different churches exist in this country.
American Jesus would see no problem with hundreds of different churches claiming they have the “right” doctrine. Jesus our Savior, however, would send us a harsh rebuke about allowing Satan to distract us from the reason doctrines exist…the cross.
2.) God gave you a brain. He intended for you to use it.
Never heard this before? Count yourself lucky. Here’s the mindset behind it. God values logic. “God gave you a brain, so why are you giving away your retirement? God gave you a brain, so why are you putting your life in danger?” You get the idea.
This is a very western, American, first-world line of thinking. You know what makes no sense? The perfect Creator of the universe sending his perfect son to a broken earth to save a wretched, miserable sinner like me. That’s crazy.
This mindset eliminates risk and faith. If God always intends for us to use our brain, why would Noah build an ark? Why would Moses ask Pharaoh to let the Israelites go? The entire Bible is about men and women making decisions that leave many comfortable Americans dumbfounded. American Jesus is dumbfounded too. But Savior Jesus is not.
3.) I vote Republican. Doesn’t every Christian?
American Jesus sees Christianity and the Republican party as two sides of the same coin. How could someone vote for a Democrat and claim to love God? To American Jesus, it’s not possible. He would be in pulpits, on Facebook, or any other platform possible to voice his disdain for the current President. In the mind of American Jesus, this country is in the position she is in because of the Democrats.
But Savior Jesus didn’t waste much energy on politics. He didn’t put much stock in government. Jesus wasn’t against government. But he also never made the mistake of believing government was the savior. And many Christians spend more time arguing for the Republican party (or the Democratic party) than proclaiming Jesus.
Many Christians spend more time arguing for the Republican party than proclaiming Jesus.Click to tweet
That’s a problem.
4.) I just want to live a mediocre life. Try not to offend anybody.
American Jesus doesn’t like to offend anybody. He would agree with most church leaders who believe their job is to cater to people who are offended. Somehow pouring energy into offended people is a “unity of the church” matter.
So church leaders shouldn’t say anything too controversial. And if they do, make sure next week’s lesson makes the congregation “feel good.” Don’t do anything crazy or radical. Don’t step out in faith. Don’t call out or rebuke anybody. Don’t push back against cultural norms.
But Savior Jesus didn’t act this way. In fact, he was so offensive to the religious people they eventually killed him. Jesus not only stepped into controversy, he embodied it. In John 6, after feeding a ton of people, Jesus found himself in front of them again.
Most American Christians would expect Jesus to say something that feels good. But Jesus instead delivered words so controversial many of his own disciples left. And they never returned. And the craziest part of this story? Jesus didn’t chase after them. He didn’t beg them to stay. He didn’t apologize. Jesus just…let them go.
So, Savior Jesus offended people, refused to cater to them, and never apologized? That mentality would be rebuked strongly in most American churches.
You see, Savior Jesus isn’t concerned with keeping the peace. He is concerned with drawing people to Himself. And those two are mutually exclusive. Maybe the world isn’t drawn to Jesus because churches allow unity and peace to trump proclaiming the gospel.
Savior Jesus isn’t concerned with keeping the peace. He is concerned with drawing people to Himself.Click to tweet
5.) Can you believe worship went 20 minutes over today?
American Jesus would come to worship like most American Christians. He would be ready to leave after an hour. And he would be timing it. The moment the clock strikes 10, you have an hour. If you go 20 minutes over, American Jesus is out. The goal of worship on Sunday is not to worship the Creator of the Universe. The goal is to get out in an hour. You can’t focus on your watch and God at the same time. American Jesus would understand.
American Jesus would have a tee time at 11. He would have a football game to watch at noon. He would have lunch plans. And it would be more important to be on time for these than draw into God. So…don’t go over!
But Savior Jesus would never watch his clock during a time of worship to the Father. And he would not sympathize with bored Christians who believe it is their spiritual gift to ensure worship ends in exactly an hour. Jesus spent entire nights with God. He never appeared bored. And he never complained about spending any amount of time with God.
6.) It’s just a little white lie. No big deal.
Christians love to rank sins. And the danger of ranking sins is we strive to avoid the big ones, while neglecting the smaller ones. American Jesus would get this. It’s just a little white lie. No big deal. It’s just one porn site. I won’t go back. People watch this stuff everyday.
Meanwhile, Savior Jesus would take us back to the Garden of Eden. Here the perfect relationship between man and God was ruined when Adam and Eve took a piece of fruit and ate it. You know what seems like an insignificant sin? Taking a bite of fruit. But God obviously thought it was serious. He cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden for it. Just one sin. Just one bite.
Savior Jesus would remind us that even a little white lie is the reason he has holes in his hands. And that should cause us to think.
7.) I served last week. Someone else can do it this week.
American Jesus gets this. Serving is not a mindset. It is an act. And that act only happens once a month. If you’re lucky. American Jesus would encourage American Christians to rebuke those who believe you should serve every week.
“Find somebody else. I have paid my dues.” American Jesus would give a loud, “Amen!” to that statement. Church is all about me. Me. Me. Me. Stop asking me to serve.
But Savior Jesus would tell us what he told his disciples in Matt. 20:28, “The Son of man came not to be served, but to serve.” To Jesus, serving was not an action. It was a mindset. It was not something on a list. It was a way of life.
Many Christians allow American ideology to influence serving more than Kingdom ideology. Serving is not a one-time event on Sunday morning. It is a life long mindset that flows from the cross.
8.) Let’s not aim too big. What if God doesn’t come through?
Either God is all-powerful or he is not. If God is all-powerful, there is nothing he can’t do. Everything is on the table. But if God is not all-powerful, then Christians should live scared. We should also live with a lot of anxiety and depression.
This is what happens when we stop believing God is all-powerful. We must rely on ourselves. That’s a scary proposition. American Jesus would understand. Don’t operate outside of logic. Don’t dream big. Never make decisions that involve God showing up.
Most churches in America are glorified clubs. If God were taken out of the equation, NOTHING would change from week to week. Why? Nothing most Christians do requires the power of God.
The world doesn’t need to see good, moral people living good, moral lives. The world needs to see men and women living beyond their own abilities. The world needs to see Christians making decisions that depend on God showing up. And if He doesn’t show, we are going to look foolish.
Savior Jesus put the power of God on full display. He went to the cross. He erased the stranglehold of sin and death. Then he was raised from the dead, and he walked out of the tomb. Like a boss.
What are some other statements American Jesus might make but Savior Jesus never would? Comment below and let me know.
I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!