Some churches and people make Jesus a mascot.
I’m sure a few people reading this might be scratching their heads, wondering what I mean by this. Others know exactly what I mean. Here in America, sometimes I think we take for granted that we don’t have to “hurt” to follow Jesus. What I mean by that is that we avoid any sort of struggle to obtain most of our Christian virtues.
In other words, we’re too comfortable.
We own a Bible and go to church and don’t get tortured for it. We praise God in our cars, listening to worship music with the windows down without fear of being imprisoned. Yes, I think we take this for granted. We make Jesus a symbol of our good decisions and a “good luck” charm. I remember a long time ago having lunch with a friend. She said that she had to make sure she went to church that week because she knew she was going to need to do good on an upcoming test. She reasoned that if she wore her cross, went to church and read a few Bible passages, then God would grant her grace. Like a give-and-take.
From time to time, we need perspective on this.
The definition of a mascot is “a person or thing that is supposed to bring good luck or that is used to symbolize a particular event or organization.” I submit that many people make Jesus out to be their mascot, not their God.
Once a week, it’s almost as if Jesus is brought out as a cheerleader to give advice on life’s struggles. Perhaps there’s a sermon about how to manage stress or how to deal with a particular sin. Some will depict Jesus as telling everyone how great they are, that He wants them prosperous and victorious. His main goal? Is to rebuild their confidence. He’ll fix all their problems. Just follow Me, and life will be great! People will then allow Mascot Jesus to reinforce in them what they think God should have us feel like: good and comfortable. He’s a motivational speaker. He tells people everything is just fine, and people are proud to be Christians and followers of this always happy, all-loving, all-tolerant, ‘Cheerleader’ Jesus.
Mascot Jesus is all about cheering us up as if life were like a football game.
But really, He’s put on the sidelines. It’s really about us. He’s just there in case we need Him. Then we get to call the shots and say it’s “God’s will” because this is the form of God that we’ve been taught. Even if there are some who claim to carry His Name, and call themselves Christian, they actually have very little reliance on him as Lord and God. Even then, I wonder if they know what it means to pick up their cross and follow Jesus as He says in the Gospels:
Matthew 16: 24-26: Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
He’s saying to “count the cost” of following Him, which means it will cost you something to follow Him. This doesn’t mean we live lives that are not happy and comfortable like some extremists. This means we know what we’re signing up for when we become a disciple of Jesus and understand the assignment.
For some, there’s not much evidence that they would have that kind of faith in the way they live. Then there are the Christians who say they do love Jesus, and do live for Him…
As long as He’s doing what they want.
As long as “Mascot Jesus” tells them about the “Goliaths” in their life and how to be the “David” overcoming them, they’re on board. Mascot Jesus makes the Bible about you. Mascot Jesus just wants you to be happy. Submission to this Jesus isn’t even hard. It just means following your feelings and making sure you only read the bits and pieces of Scripture that fit your mosaic of who you want Jesus to be. It seems like a contradiction, but many have redefined Jesus as someone they can both admire and ignore at the same time.
He’s Mascot Jesus. He’s convenient. He’s your cheerleader. He’ll make you feel good.
Praiseworthy? Sure! As long as He is in line with what we’re comfortable with and can be used when it’s convenient. As long as He’s a “Jesus” that’s culturally acceptable. Is He the God of your life, or are you? Do you follow the Jesus of the Holy Bible? Or do you follow Jesus that you’ve made in your own image?
Is Jesus your mascot? Or is He your Sovereign Savior?
Count the cost.
Recommended resources related to the topic:
Letters to a Young Progressive by Mike Adams (Book)
Another Gospel? by Alisa Childers (book)
Melissa Dougherty is a Christian Apologist best known for her YouTube channel as an ex-new ager. She has two associate’s degrees, one in Early Childhood Multicultural Education, and the other in Liberal Arts. She is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies at Southern Evangelical Seminary.