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Matt Mikalatos has written a fictional story entitled, "Imaginary Jesus." In that story the main character encounters a wide variety of people who claim to be Jesus, but who actually represent our diverse and ever-changing depictions of who we want Jesus to be and the roles we want Him to fill for our personal benefit.

There's Nice Human Teacher who is a Jesus relegated to the status of Gandhi: a loving philosopher who did some good stuff. He can be largely ignored and he has no moral claim on my life, and, let's be honest, "no one expects me to be as good as Gandhi or Jesus." On the flip side there's Perpetually Angry Jesus who is constantly standing up and denouncing things and pointing his finger at people while judging them for their sins. There's TV Jesus, who says: "If you follow me, you will have the life you always wanted. Money! Wealth! Big house! Fancy plane! Unending health!" There's Hollywood Jesus who is mild and kind and never asks for anything difficult. He's the loving Jesus who wants us to be happy all the time and smiles knowingly when we sin and gives us a big hug and sends us on our way. Then there's the Magic Eight Ball Jesus who's good for quick guidance. Then there's "Testosterone Jesus" who mostly goes to men's mountain retreats and watches Braveheart for inspiration. The Legalist Jesus, who is constantly preoccupied with the minutiae of your obedience to the Law, and invents fences to keep you as far from sin as possible. The Political Jesus, who wants to take over the American government with Christians and transform the entire nation into a "Christian Nation."

The fact is we all have an image of who Jesus is and the roles we want him to play for our benefit and they don't quite match up with the Jesus of the Gospels. We build this story about who Jesus is and what we need Him to be and do for us and never challenge them.

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