(This was first published as a note on my Facebook page on July 7,2011. I was asked to consider reposting it.)
And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. Mark 8:29 KJV
Kristen and I were listening to the radio on our way to piano lessons this morning. I turned it on and heard just a little part of a sermon. I don't even know who the preacher was, but it doesn't matter. He compared how we believe in Jesus to that of a Build-A-Bear Workshop. He didn't really go into detail and concluded the sermon, but it got me to thinking. If you've never been to a Build-A-Bear Workshop, they're all about the same. You can pick from an assortment of animals and choose the one you want to make. Yours may not even be a bear. You might make a cat, dog, monkey, etc. Then you can choose how you stuff it and even add some cutesy stuff to put inside. Then you can buy clothes to dress your animal. You end up with your own version of what you would like your stuffed animal to be. It's funny to me how many people go into Build-A-Bear and come out with a cat or a monkey and not a bear at all.
We're like that with Jesus and God. We go into the Bible and pick out the parts we like and we put them together and build ourselves a god that we can live with. You see that isn't God. You don't build a God out of the pieces you like and leave the rest. God is God. He is the God who created the universe. He is the God who loves us enough to send His Son to die for us. He is also the God who wiped out entire cities at a a time because He was disgusted with how they were living. He is also the God who will proclaim to many to depart from Him into an everlasting Hell because He never knew them.
There are so many people who think they can go to Build-A-Jesus. They go into church or into their Bibles and pick out what they want. Usually they like the "Called the Children Unto Him" model or the "Feeding the Multitude" model. The "Tunring over the Tables" model isn't a favorite, nor is the "Great Commission" model. Then it's time to stick in the parts you want Him to be stuffed with. Usually a little "ask and ye shall receive", coupled with some "God wants to bless you" and a little dab of "riches in Heaven". Then it's time to close Him up and dress Him. Most people pick the "Royal Robe and Crown" outfit and not usually the "Crown of Thorns". Then they're all ready to pick up the newly created Jesus and carry Him out to use whenever it is convenient. The problem is that just like at the Build-A-Bear when people come out with an animal that doesn't look so much like a bear, most people come out of "Build-A-Jesus" carrying something that doesn't really look that much like Jesus at all. It's more of a creation of sorts that they can pick up or put down as they wish.
The saddest part to me is that so many people are so happy with their Jesus that they made at the Build-A-Jesus that they miss the point of who Jesus really is. Some will even carry their Jesus they made with them to judgement only to figure out that they didn't even have something that looked remotely close to Jesus. When they figure it out, it may be too late.
I hate I didn't hear the rest of that sermon and who knows? Maybe that two minutes I heard of it was the only part where he mentioned the Build-A-Bear concept, but it really made me think. I know some people who have been to the Build-A-Jesus and seem to be very happy with the things they've built, but I don't recognize the likeness to be that of Jesus. It's scary and sad all at the same time to see people who think they're in a position to receive God's blessings and yet the reality is that they wouldn't recognize Him if He walked into the room because He doesn't really look like what they made Him to be.
It has been my experience that Jesus is the perfect picture of love. It is accurate that He is always waiting with arms outstretched to meet us, but it also my experience that He will ask you to leave your comfort zone. He will ask you to do things that you would rather not do, and sometimes He will ask you to walk through the deepest darkest valley. He sometimes asks us to stretch ourselves almost to the point of breaking. It is in these times that you find the real Jesus. He will be the One that gives you the strength to keep breathing. He will be there to walk the valleys with you and will see each and every tear. You will find that although the Build-a-Jesus carries less risks and brings a simpler life, it is in knowing the real Jesus that you grow in faith and learn to trust Him completely. So I challenge you to put away who you have created Jesus to be, and get to know Him more completely. Ask Him to reveal His true character to you. Ask Him to let you know Him better. Develop a personal relationship with Him just as you would a friend.