Imaginary Jesus and the Christology of Ricky Bobby

In Talledega Nights, when Ricky Bobby Prays to his “8 pound, 6 ounce baby Jesus” with “golden fleece diapers” we all laughed…admit it, you laughed, too. And then when his buddy pipes up and talks about how his Jesus wears a tuxedo t-shirt, we all laughed some more.

But is your Jesus any less ridiculous? This is the premise behind the book Imaginary Jesus (which is currently FREE as an e-book right now). Matt Mikalatos starts the story at a coffee shop in Portland, OR where he’s hanging out with Jesus, meets the Apostle Peter, then witnesses a fist-fight between the two! And it just gets better from there.

But for me the book raises an interesting question: From where do you draw your christological theology? In other words, how do you answer Jesus’ question in Luke 9:20 where He asks, “Who do you say that I am?” Is your Jesus as blatantly ridiculous as one from Talledaga Nights: a figure skater who does interpretive ice dances of your life? Or is your Jesus only subtly foolish:  a really nice guy who will give you whatever you want if you pray the right prayers and show up at the right building every Sunday? Most of us would never admit to it, but isn’t that true to some degree? Is that honestly the image that comes to mind when you hear that name Jesus?

There are two problems with this view of Jesus. First, this image does not inspire worship. No one worships an ATM machine. No one worships a vending machine. No one worships where you can buy anything you want. So why would we worship a sky fairy whose ultimate purpose is to give us what we want? Why would we be moved to awe by an invisible ATM, vending machine, or We wouldn’t! That imaginary Jesus would actually follow us and his purpose would be to fulfill our needs. I don’t know about you but I refuse to worship something or someone that is not greater than me.

Second and more importantly, this is not the God of the Bible. Jesus is God in flesh; the God-man. He is eternal. He is God. The God of the Bible is infinite; He is powerful; He is in charge, He is the central character of all human history; and He does not bow down to anyone. This is God; this is Jesus. This is someone I can worship.

So ask yourself, “What does Jesus really look like? Who does Jesus reveal Himself to be in the Bible?” I promise you, the real answer to that question will move you to worship. And if it doesn’t, then it’s not the real Jesus.