As I was trolling Facebook recently I ran across a quote by Anne Lamotte:
You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.
My mentor refers to this kind of tendency as having a relationship with “Pooh Bear Jesus.” We’ve all had a relationship with Pooh Bear Jesus.
Pooh Bear Jesus is lovey and cuddly. Pooh Bear Jesus makes us feel good when things are bad. Pooh Bear Jesus never judges us, never makes us uncomfortable, never asks us to do anything other than what we are currently doing. We are in control of Pooh Bear Jesus, and, so, Pooh Bear Jesus just smiles at us as he sits on the pillows on our bed. We dictate who Pooh Bear Jesus is and what Pooh Bear Jesus does.
This is not the Jesus of classical Christianity.
In the classical expressions of our faith, we are not allowed to make Jesus be just any old thing we want him to be. In my tradition, one of our confessions offers a lengthy litany of the work of Jesus Christ (loving, healing, teaching, raising, etc.), and then names that he was killed for these things and that God raised “this Jesus” from the dead.
This Jesus. Not some other Jesus. Not some Jesus we drummed up in our heads. This Jesus – the one who came to serve and not be served. This Jesus – the one who gave his life as a ransom for many. This Jesus – the one who chose the outcasts and least of these.
It’s okay to have a teddy bear when you are young to help you feel safe, but it’s not okay to have a Pooh Bear Jesus.