10. Legalist Jesus
Lastly, legalist Jesus is a Jesus who baptizes my traditions and preferences as orthodoxy.
Like the Pharisees, Legalist Jesus mixes prohibitions on grey matters with orthodoxy. This Jesus, scorned by some, is attractive to others because he offers a simple list of rules to live by, allowing his followers to ignore the daily practice of repentance and forgiveness and the Spirit’s sanctifying work and instead offers a checklist Christianity.
This is the Jesus of my youth—the Jesus who said I was OK as long as I listened to certain music and didn’t expose myself to certain movies. The problem with Legalist Jesus is that his gospel doesn’t save. It offers a lifeless religion that seeks outward transformation at the expense of inward renewal and grace. Only the real Christ, whose life, death and resurrection offer personal and cosmic salvation, has the power to change lives and bring His people to Himself.
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As you can see, each of these Jesus figures offers a glimpse of the real Jesus, but by accentuating only some of His character, keeps Christians from bowing in worship at the feet of the real Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the world.
A version of Christianity that allows us to shape Jesus as we see fit seems attractive in the short run, but it can be a spiritual dead end. Instead, I find genuine joy not in the mascot, bobble-head Jesus of my imagination, but in surrendering my heart in worship and obedience to the original Jesus of Scripture.
The original article about each counterfeit Jesus appeared here.