I want you to meet my good buddy J.C. (I call him the Jizzle Sizzle sometimes when we get crazy). My boy J.C. rocks! He loves me big time all the time, and I love that about him. I talk to him just like he is one of my homeboys. My J.C. doesn't come down on me when I mess up, he totally understands. He misses me like crazy when I don't call for a while, and when I finally get back to him, he picks up on the first ring (it's like he has nothing else to do except wait on me!). I love my boy J.C. because he has done so much for me. That dude would give me the shirt off his back. One time I asked him to walk a mile, and that crazy cat walked 2! He is always giving me stuff and encouraging me to chase after the "desires of my heart". It's like I just think of some desire and he's all like, "yeah man, you can do it...I'll even help you!" What's not to love about the guy? He's just like me!
Do you recognize this J.C. character? It seems he is being touted all over the place these days. This "needy Jesus" has got to be one of the most destructive concepts being taught IN CHURCH today. When people create their own "needy Jesus" in their image, the holy and righteous God of Heaven is hacked up into pieces so that we can cram Him into our wallet like a credit card with no limit. God becomes our little play-thing that we pull out whenever we feel like it or, more importantly, whenever we need something. This "needy Jesus" exists exclusively for us. When we worship this "needy Jesus" we look at sin as something that is harmful to us, not harmful to a holy and righteous God. Thus, sin becomes something that just prevents us from "realizing our full potential".
This is where the "needy Jesus" theology leads:
"My Jesus understands how hard it is to not (fill in the blank for whatever sin you struggle with)."
"I worship my Jesus 7 days a week. I don't need to go to church to worship my Jesus."
"My Jesus doesn't expect me to 'sell everything and give it to the poor'."
"My Jesus wrote a book full of wonderful promises that tell me that he has a plan for me, wants me to be happy and have all of my heart's desires."
But what does the Bible actually say:
Absolutely, Jesus understands temptation and the difficulties of battling sin. Hebrews 4:15 says "we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin." But Scripture is very clear, God hates wickedness and considers sin an "abomination" to Him (Proverbs 6:16-19). David writes in Psalm 7:11, "God is a righteous judge, and a God who has indignation every day."
Yes, we have the joy of worshiping a God whose Holy Spirit dwells in us, but Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us, "let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some."
As for the "sell everything/carry your cross" debate that only seems to be relegated to those "crazy missionaries", check out Luke 14:25-35. Five words: salt, useless, manure, thrown out.
The Bible is full of wonderful promises. Thing is, most of these promises are meant to either be kept in context or earned. Example: Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, "For I know the plans I have for you...plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope". Taken out of context, this verse tells us everything that our itching ears want to hear. But left in context we realize that Jeremiah was telling the Israelites that God will check back in with them after 70 years of exile and slavery in Babylon. THEN comes the "future and a hope". See, the Israelites were on the verge of some serious punishment. But we read that passage as "God just told me he wants me to be happy and prosper". I urge you to listen to Voddie Baucham's sermon on this passage. And as for the heart's desire thing, Psalm 10:3 says, "The wicked boasts of his heart's desire." God does want to grant us our heart's desire, but the question is where did the desire come from? Is it a fleshly desire that I come up with or is it a godly desire that the Holy Spirit wants to work in my life and bring to fruition for HIS glory?
So in response to this "Jesus is My Homeboy" theology, I thought the best thing would be to see what exactly the Scripture says.
"Let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things." Jeremiah 9:24
"Make me know YOUR ways, O Lord; teach me YOUR paths. Lead me in YOUR truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For YOU I wait all the day." Psalm 25:4-5
"As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?" Psalm 42:1-2
"My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God." Psalm 62:5-8
"But as for me, the nearness of God is my refuge; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all YOUR works." Psalm 73:28
"How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart." Psalm 119:2
"With all my heart I have sought You; do not let me wander from Your commandments. Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You." Psalm 119:10-11
"Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to YOUR testimonies and not to dishonest gain. Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, and revive me in YOUR ways." Psalm 119:35-37
"I considered my ways and turned my feet to YOUR testimonies. I hastened and did not delay to keep Your commandments." Psalm 119:59-60
"Examine me, O Lord, and try me; test my mind and my heart." Psalm 26:2
"This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." John 17:3
"For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow ME." John 10:27
Its all about HIM. None of this has anything to do with us unless it involves us living for Him. God does not exist for us and our satisfaction. We exist to glorify Him and make His name known. We were created by Him and for Him. Even our salvation is for the glory of His name (Luke 24:45-47). God desires for us to know HIM, not for us to know us and for Him to know us (so we can sit around and talk more about us). We come to a knowledge of Him so that we can worship Him and tell others about Him so that someday "every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues....cry out with a loud voice saying, 'Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne'." I love how David Platt put it, "We don't come to Christ to get stuff, we come to Christ to get God."
O, I can just hear it now, "That's harsh brother, I can't believe you would say that. My Jesus would never say those things."
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