Ever since he began his ministry, Jesus Christ has been a focal point of discussions, songs, and writings throughout the world. Historical researchers would be hard pressed to find a more significant figure in all of history, yet the world’s most famous person also happens to be the most misrepresented in American culture today.
According to an extensive Pew Research survey, around seventy-eight percent of adults in the United States are self-identified Christians, but a quick comparison of Jesus to American culture reveals that believers adhere to one of two forms of Christianity: Biblical Christianity or feel-good Christianity. The first form is based on the Bible as a whole and not just the aspects of Jesus’ teachings that seem most comfortable. On the other hand, feel-good Christianity is rooted in self-interest and uses proof texting to promote a view of Jesus and Biblical doctrine that makes us happy.
Pervading the American culture of today is an overwhelming sense of relativism within the Christian faith that tries to twist Jesus into someone meant to make us feel good above all else; however, Jesus does not call his followers to live an easy or convenient life, and feel-good Christianity does not represent the essence of who Jesus really is.
Feel-good Christianity often serves as an effective distraction from the truth of Jesus Christ. Christians can better their understanding of who Jesus is by examining his teachings and reading the Bible as a whole.
When Jesus Christ came to earth as the authoritative standard of righteousness, his mission was to rescue us from sin and bring us into relationship with God. Jesus knew his mission would require him to endure ridicule, torture, and death, yet he still sacrificed himself because of his radical love for all of creation. Throughout his ministry, Jesus demonstrated his love with compassion for the outcast and grace for the sinner; however, he always emphasized the importance of following God’s commands.
Jesus instructs us to abide by God’s law for the same reason a parent commands their child to wash their hands before a meal: both God and parents value the well-being of their children and do not want to see them get sick. Jesus makes it clear that abiding by God’s law will be challenging and he guarantees that following Christ will require sacrifice; however, Jesus promises great rewards to people who choose to follow him, including the gift of eternal life.
Biblical Christianity does not ensure material prosperity, minimize the consequences of sin, nor condone self-righteousness, but Biblical Christianity is more beautiful and fulfilling than any form of truth we as humans could create for ourselves. Christians must reject the feel-good approach to Christianity and embrace the truth Jesus revealed to the world in the Bible.
Emily Morris, 18, is a high school senior and has been very involved in debate and youth government. She plans on attending college in the fall, where she will continue to write about faith and the culture surrounding young people today.