It’s absolutely amazing what Photoshop can do to make people look better (or worse) than they really are. Put an average person through Photoshop and a star is born!

We can do anything with Photoshop. If I don’t like my arms, I can use Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s arms. If I don’t like the shape of my body, eyes, nose, or entire face—I can mix and match to my heart’s desire.

I can even create people in my own image!

Personally, I think all this is pretty weird, but it now appears to be a regular part of our lives. But what’s worse is what’s happening in the contemporary church, and particularly in our theology. We tend to Photoshop Jesus, making him appear more appealing or more in line with whatever our needs are at the moment.

We come up with a different Jesus whenever we want one—the motivational Jesus, the conflict management Jesus, the win-win Jesus, the redistributionist or capitalist Jesus, the Grand Inquisitor Jesus, the Hipster Jesus, and so forth. You know what I’m getting at. You’ve probably seen it all too, or maybe even created a Jesus of your own.

Here’s the real problem: when we read the New Testament we encounter a Jesus who doesn’t ever quite fit into our scenario. Every time we think we have him in a box, he seems to break out of it and become someone we can’t exactly figure out or identify with. So he’s always in need of just a little more creative interpretation.

Jesus is hard to preach; either he talks too much about hell (with fewer pastors wanting to preach on it), sin, loving our enemies, self-righteousness, truth, holy living, or money, and not nearly enough about tolerance and our favorite politics to be of use to us.

Come to think of it, most of the people who heard him teach in person had the same problem with him. He didn’t fit in then either.

Let’s face it: Jesus needs to be photoshopped a little here and a little there to make an impact on our church today. Liberal, conservative, or middle of the road, each church has done it’s own work before unveiling him to the public, even if no one cares to admit it. Many pastors have lost their jobs for not getting the trend quite right.

If we just let Jesus be who he really is—the raw, un-photoshopped Jesus, and have the church proclaim the truth about him far and wide, the Good News would turn the world upside down. It’s time to stop making the Gospel message more pleasing and something Jesus would not do.