Even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!As we have said before, even now I say again: if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! Galatians 1:8-9 NASB 

I wasn’t raised in church but I was raised in America, so, growing-up I saw a lot of paintings of Jesus. In all of them Jesus was pretty white-bread and Anglo. He always had long blonde hair, high cheekbones, clear blue eyes and ivory skin. Because I wasn’t a Christian, I didn’t think much about whether or not those renderings were an accurate representation of Jesus. 

As a young adult Christian, I saw my first painting of a black Jesus. To be honest, I found the whole notion of a black Jesus a little disconcerting because it just wasn’t how I “saw” Jesus in my white-girl head. Later, in a class I took on missions, I learned that in every culture where the gospel has taken root, Christians have painted Jesus to look exactly like them. This is why there are black Jesus’, white Jesus’, brown Jesus’ and Asian Jesus’ even though Jesus was a Middle Eastern Jewish man. 

This is not a bad thing. 

It means humans grasp intuitively the spiritual reality Jesus was sacrificed, not just for one group of really special people but for all people (Romans 6:10, Hebrews 5:5-9, Hebrews 10:10). Our tendency to make Jesus “look like us” means all Christians (regardless of nationality or skin color) identify with Jesus in a personal way.  We understand on a gut-level Jesus was the great high priest who made the ultimate sacrifice for every tribe, language, people and nation on earth (Revelation 5:9). 

The flipside of this phenomenon is it exposes the human propensity we all have to make Jesus into whoever or whatever we want Him to be. Humans have always been inclined to make God in their own image. This is most clearly seen with the Greco/Roman pantheon of gods. The Greco/Roman “gods” reflected human passions, strengths and weaknesses. They were gods made in the image of man. 

Now we do it with Jesus. 

It is not at all unusual for people (Christian people) to say “my Jesus” or “the God I worship”. Nine times out of ten “my Jesus” or “the God I worship” is followed by a statement of what “their” God would or would not do. It is exceptionally rare for these proclamations to line up one-hundred-percent with what the Bible actually says about the subject. 

It does happen. Just not very often. 

This is not a new thing. In 2nd Corinthians Paul confronted his readers with their tendency to turn to a “new Jesus” anytime a preacher with a new teaching came along. These “other Jesus’” did not line up with the Jesus Paul had preached to them (2nd Corinthians 11:3-4). The Corinthian Christians loved God and apparently had a sincere longing to serve God. However, they were in danger of being deceived by these “other Jesus’” just as Eve was deceived by Satan’s clever arguments in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-4). 

The tendency to make Jesus into what we want Him to be is getting demonstrably worse. It’s not at all unusual for professing Christians to say “Jesus was right beside me” as they were busy doing something the authentic biblical Jesus would never be a part of. Something like getting an abortion, taking drugs or marrying someone of the same gender. Nor is it unusual for a professing Christian to insist Jesus or God “showed them” something was okay that directly contradicts biblical teaching. Oftentimes these are serious sins like leaving a marriage without biblical grounds, having an affair or lying about something (Matthew 19:1-9, Exodus 20:16).

Professing Christians who make these kinds of statements are not doctrinally confused. Nor are they going through a quirky spiritual stage. It’s much more serious than that. These folks are worshiping a fake Jesus.  A really nice Jesus, but a Jesus who is nothing more than a figment of their fevered imaginations. When someone describes “their God” or “their Jesus” in a way that does not reflect the Jesus of the Bible, they have the wrong Jesus and they are headed down the wrong spiritual path (Matthew 7:13-14). 

 It’s also one of the clues that we are nearing the end. 

In 2nd Timothy 3:1-5 gives a detailed description of what many professing Christians will “look like” just prior to the return of Jesus. In verse five Paul says these folks will “have a form of godliness but deny its power”. The Greek indicates, these people will look like Christians and even act like Christians—at least to some degree. Nonetheless, when it comes down to the place where the rubber meets the road (metaphorically speaking) they will have no real understanding of what kind of God they are dealing with. 

Because they have the wrong Jesus. 

The “right” Jesus is actually really easy to identify. God ensured it’s not a big mystery. The real Jesus is for the same things He was for and against the same things He was against when the New Testament was written. The real Jesus doesn’t change with the culture. 

The real Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  

This whole issue of who Jesus is (and isn’t) is a serious problem that demands discernment on the part of Christians (Psalm 119:125, Proverbs 18:15, Philippians 1:9-11). It is not our job to judge others. Nonetheless, it is our job to make wise judgments about doctrinal issues and what we believe about Jesus. We will be held accountable for believing in and promoting any kind of a fake Jesus (1st Timothy 4:16, Titus 2:1, Hebrews 13:9)