Pooh Bear Jesus

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.

13 thoughts on “Pooh Bear Jesus

  1. Good post. I always like it when people agree with me. I tend to start most of my confirmation and new member classes with this affirmation: “God is not a fluffy bunny.” My explanation of this follows pretty close to what you wrote.

  2. You should read “Imaginary Jesus” by Matt Mikalatos. It is a humorous look at how we create the Jesus that we want to worship.
    I highly recommend it.

  3. This Jesus who took a body and kept it? (Raising it from the dead, and taking it into heaven?)

    Just wanting to make sure we’re all on board with the same Jesus.

    • I doubt we are “all on board” with the same understanding of Jesus, but if that’s what your tradition teaches you then you are called to allow that to inform your life of faith.

      • Landon, that’s not just what my tradition teaches. It’s the plain meaning of the Scriptures – and it is believed in the universal (catholic) church – passed on in the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed. Moreover, your tradition claims to confess the same in the Scots Confession. (Not to mention the pre-eminent confessional criteria of Presbyterianism, the Westminster Standards.)

        The question about Pooh Bear Jesus demands a certain public honesty. It’s not enough to confess a Jesus that one’s isolated community recognizes…after all, whole peoples make enemies of other peoples. The question must be this: Do we confess the Jesus the Church has always recognized as her Lord?

        What is optional about belief in Jesus – and what is off the negotiation table? If basic creedal Christianity – in its simplest rendering – is not obligatory on Christian leaders, then where is the claim to being part of the community that Jesus founded (and with whom He still abides)?

  4. Dorothy Sayers had something to say about this:

    I believe it is a grave mistake to present Christianity as something charming and popular with no offence in it. Seeing that Christ went about the world giving the most violent offense to all kinds of people, it would seem absurd to expect that the doctrine of his person can be so presented at to offend nobody. We cannot blink at the fact that gentle Jesus, meek and mild, was so stiff in His opinions and so inflammatory in His language that He was thrown out of church, stoned, hunted from place to place, and finally gibbeted as a firebrand and a public danger. Whatever His peace was, it was not the peace of an amiable indifference.

    Dorothy Sayers, Letters to a Diminished Church: Passionate Arguments for the Relevance of Christian Doctrine (as quoted in The Jesus You Can’t Ignore by John MacArthur p. 163)

      • I swore I wouldn’t get a Twitter acocunt. But Tala never didn’t take that oath! Hey Stacie, you don’t have to have me on your blogroll. You have a lot of fans, they can’t all fit on one sidebar! (Srsly, no pressure from me!!)

  5. And avoid Peter Piglet, he’s a conniving widdle creature 🙂
    Seriously, good post. Makes me think. think. think. Dang, can’t escape the urge to make Pooh jokes…oops, there I go again.

  6. Very interesting. In our less-than-infinite wisdom, we try to transform who Jesus was, and is, and will be. Should we not instead be letting God’s love for us, through Jesus Christ, transform who we are?

    We seek an easy faith, an easy Jesus. This is not the Gospel.

    Oh, and one can never have too many Pooh jokes 🙂

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