by Jeannette Haley
Last month, I wrote about the liberal, tolerant Jesus who is promoted by mainstream churches today. We also discussed a weak Jesus who needs “help” in establishing the kingdom on earth before He can return, as well as the weak Jesus who needed the help of the so-called evolutionary process, in order to bring forth life upon earth. We also discussed how psychology is necessary nowadays to supplement the counsel and power of a weak Jesus.
In this article, we will be examining the popular comedian Jesus, the legalistic Jesus, the sugar-daddy Jesus, and the mythical Jesus—all in light of Scripture.
People love to laugh. You love to laugh, and I love to laugh. There is nothing wrong with that. After all, God gave people a sense of humor. Even animals have a sense of humor as any pet owner will readily confess. So, what is wrong with “funny” preachers and “speakers?” Does God frown on His people having a good time?
The answer to that comes down to why we feel the need to have a “good time,” the reason or motives behind our desire to be humored, and what the Bible tells us about lasting joy. First, most people want to have a good time because, let’s face it; life usually involves stress, hard work, drudgery, disappointments, tragedy, sorrow, loss, and so forth. If life is punctuated by certain events that temporarily provide a “good time,” then people tend to gravitate to those events. The problem is people can begin to live for the highs they get during these “good times.” You find such people swinging like trapeze artists from one good time to another. It can result in being all they look forward to, and what they work and live for, because it provides a temporary fantasy world that blocks out the harshness of reality.
Good, clean humor and comedy can offer temporary relief from stress and built-up tension. Laughter is good for our health. It’s therapeutic. There is no doubt about that. It’s especially good to not take oneself too seriously, and to be able to laugh at oneself. The Bible tells us: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” Proverbs 17:22. However, there is a “time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” Ecclesiastes 3:4. In other words, there is a time and a place for laughter. Nevertheless, there is also a time and a place where humor and laughter are not only inappropriate, but of the wrong spirit, and an affront to God.
So, you may ask, what does all this have to do with Jesus? No doubt Jesus was endowed with a sense of humor. The problem is, some speakers, groups and churches promote a comedian Jesus that cheapens, degrades and misrepresents the Son of God. Making light of God’s Word, the gravity of sin, death, judgment, and hell is not only in poor taste, but its underlying attitude is opposed to the very Spirit and nature of our holy God, His Word, and His work of salvation among mankind. This attitude is flippant and worldly, yet people who profess to love Christ swarm to conferences and churches where humor is the main course offered up on the entertainment menu.
I appreciate A. W. Tozer’s honest insight: “I believe current evangelicalism is falling short in its attitude toward God, its attitude toward the world and its attitude toward sin. I have been hurt and shocked continuously by the levity displayed toward God by many supposed followers of Christ. Worldliness has become epidemic in evangelical circles. Although we still condemn worldliness, we have redefined it to mean something different from what it meant a generation ago. We are so afraid of being narrow that we have opened our doors to worldliness. Of course, this leads only to spiritual tragedy for everyone.”
In spite of the modern trend that rides upon the back of cheap grace to make light of the Gospel, Jesus didn’t come to entertain us. Neither did He send the Holy Spirit to be an entertainer in the New Testament church. People whose Christianity is made up of “holy hilarity” need to yank themselves back from the dead-end path they are traveling. James 4:9, 10 says: “Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”
Real joy comes through right standing and fellowship with God. Psalm 34:18 gives this powerful and wonderful promise: “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” Psalm 51:17 give us this insight into what pleases God: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Do you want to be a person to whom God looks? If so, consider Isaiah 66:2: “For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” “. . . rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness. . . .” Joel 2:13.
When it comes to spiritual things, are we silly or sober? 1 Thessalonians 5:6 is a commandment: “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” Then in verse 7, we read: “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” All through the Book of Titus Paul emphasized the need for sobriety to Christian leaders, aged men, young women, and young men. In case you think that Paul was a pickle puss, the Apostle Peter wrote: “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 1:13. “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer” 1 Peter 4:7. Plus, we are given this somber warning by Peter in 1 Peter 5:8: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”.
Concerning this latter verse, some of the silly (foolish) false prophets add to God’s word by boasting that Satan may roar, but he “doesn’t have any teeth, so all he can do is gum you.” What foolishness! Any such notion is in direct contradiction to what the Holy Spirit inspired Peter to write. This is just one example of how the hirelings of humor have wrested the Scriptures “unto their own destruction.” (See 2 Peter 3:16.)
Entertainment, fun, humor, and laughter in this world are just that—of this world. It is temporary and soulish. But the joy of the Lord is deep, satisfying and lasting, because it involves both soul and spirit. It is an abiding joy that originates with God and is upheld by His Spirit in love and truth. Psalm 16:11 says: Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” What does it mean to be at His right hand? Is this not where the risen Christ is seated? (See Hebrews 1:3)
And, Ephesians 2:5-7 gives this assurance: “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” We have this promise in Colossians 3:3,4: “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” Is this the joy and rejoicing of your heart, or have you settled for flimsy and fleeting entertainment?
Sadly, there are those who are still chained within their dank, dark cells of religious legalism who look to a legalistic Jesus. This Jesus is demanding, unapproachable, and imparts little, if any, life to His followers. He is appealed to through a convoluted structure of traditions, sacraments and doctrines that may temporarily appease the dictates of conscience, but leave the soul lifeless and dry. Somewhere deep inside, there may be a flicker of yearning to know the Living God, but theology has all but snuffed out the flame. Is it really possible to “know Him?”
Tozer wrote: “When the apostle cries ‘That I may know him,’ he uses the word know not in its intellectual but its experiential sense. We must look for the meaning—not to the mind but to the heart. Theological knowledge is knowledge about God. While this is indispensable it is not sufficient. It bears the same relation to man’s spiritual need as a well does to the need of his physical body. It is not the rock-lined pit for which the dusty traveler longs, but the sweet, cool water that flows up from it. It is not intellectual knowledge about God that quenches man’s ancient heart-thirst, but the very Person and Presence of God Himself. These come to us through Christian doctrine, but they are more than doctrine. Christian truth is designed to lead us to God, not to serve as a substitute for God.”
Prisoners of legalistic theology are usually held captive by the powerful twin controllers of guilt and fear. Guilt and fear are powerful weapons in the hands of any Pharisaical institution or leader. Guilt and fear are the pillars under girding cults and false religions. People whose minds have been bent under the double torture of guilt and fear easily succumb to dead religion that presents a Jesus who is impersonal and impossible to please. There is no real assurance of salvation in such a religious setting, yet the fruits coming forth are self-righteousness and pride. Yet, Jesus said: “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” John 10:10.
The problem with any legalistic religion or church is that it is idolatrous. True Christianity is replaced by ceremony and formality; self-righteousness is a substitute for holiness; the fruit of the Spirit is superseded by dead works; discernment is trampled under by judgmentalism; truth is held captive to man’s perverted interpretations; the Holy Spirit is ignored and unwelcome; and Jesus is overshadowed by the leadership. To such God says: “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” 2 Corinthians 6: 17, 18.
The early Christians understood self-denial, cross-bearing, the Lordship of Christ, personal sacrifice, and benevolence. They understood true repentance, obedience, and they loved not the world. However, there is a large segment of professing Christians today who seem to thrive on living just the opposite of our Christian forefathers.
Encouraged by a parade of popular self-exalting “television teachers” and writers, the devoted and deluded adherents of these modern charlatans eagerly fall in line for all the “blessings” that are sure to come their way. After all, the Jesus who is being promoted came for the purpose of abolishing poverty and problems. The Jesus these merchandisers of men’s souls peddle isn’t as interested in your soul as he is in your pocket book. Give lavishly to the person promoting the “prosperity doctrine” and you will receive “greater blessings.” Being “positive” is high on the agenda. All you have to do is speak into existence those things that you want. According to these greedy-for-gain fakes, God wants you to be rich, because “you are a king’s kid.”
This sugar-daddy “Jesus” doesn’t require you to deny self or pick up your cross. Nope. In fact, this “Jesus” wants you to make yourself comfortable in the world. It’s all about the here and now, and how you can prosper and live high on the hog.
In fact, you are, according to this philosophy, a “little god.” You can control your reality simply by having faith in your faith, and, as a “little god,” by speaking things into existence. They preach that “gain is godliness.” We’ve all heard their endless line of blarney. The tragedy is, however, countless lives have been spiritually shipwrecked because of these doctrines of demons. People become angry with God when reality turns their make-believe world upside down. Many walk away from the only One who can heal their broken heart and wounded spirit.
God has made it very clear in His Word: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” 1 John 2:15-17.
Concerning gain and godliness, the Lord says: “Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” 1 Timothy 6:5-10.
The “Jesus” of this deceptive, false, self-serving gospel appeals to lust, greed and pride. It is idolatrous, sensual and worldly, and no one can truly be saved by giving in to its “ear-tickling” delusions. The question is, how does a person begin to wade through all of the deceptions being peddled in the name of Christ and Christianity today? The answer is, have a love for the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10), pray for the gift of discernment, (1 Corinthians 12:10) and seek to know the real Jesus (John 14:6).
Finally, there is the “mystical Jesus.” This “Jesus” fits nicely in with the New Age concept of “The Christ,” and the mind-science version of “The Christ consciousness,” and the Hinduism version of “The Master” or any of the other “Christ’s” neatly packaged and tacked on to mystical religions, cults, movements, and so forth. In this realm, “Christ” is just another god who can be appealed to or worshipped along with any one of the other gods, or philosophies such as Buddhism.
The problem is, the mystical practices of the eastern religions and the occult are being repackaged and peddled to the Church as “Christian.” Space doesn’t permit going into detail about this dangerous infiltration into the Church.
We have briefly looked at some of the popular Jesus’s being presented today, but these are by no means the only false Christ’s on the scene. As in the days of Noah, when he was preparing the ark, men’s imaginations are evil and vain. People want to mentally fashion their own version of Jesus, so that they can deceive themselves into believing that they can have this world and heaven as well. Countless “churched” people are in love with their idea of Jesus. Others are living in blatant sin, yet confessing to be “saved.” All of these people find fault with the real Jesus. In their minds, there is indeed something “wrong” with Him.
Yet, in spite of it all, God still has His remnant. Are you in that number?