Daniel Darling recently wrote an article titled "10 Counterfeit Jesus Figures We Should Stop Worshiping". I read the article and agree wholeheartedly with its words, sentiments and appreciate its wisdom, scriptural basis and dusts of humor.
Something that I believe was missing in the list was the "Jesus Looks Like Me" Jesus. Often this Jesus shows up in segregated Sunday morning services, bible studies and prays the "right way". This Jesus is White, Black, Latino, Asian, First-Nation or Post-Racial in the photos we display. This Jesus isn't just shaped by location but by ethnicity and the culture of our families of origins because of privilege, oppression and illusions of racial and ethnic supremacy.
Each of the Counterfeit Jesus claims that supposed followers of the Biblical Christ seem to worship have roots in colonialism, oppressive missiology and/or sinful patterns of our families of origin.
It is well-documented that as Christianity spread in the modern world, abuse, violence and imperialism were often right alongside it - except in the actual Book of Acts where the Gospel cast a living vision of the Kingdom of God and modeled, as best we can on this side of Glory, what a community given over to Jesus looks like.
Stephen in Acts 6 was a man full of the spirit and obedient to God. And because of that faithfulness to the risen Savior who preached the Kingdom of God, he was stoned by the worshipers of the Legalist "Messiah" and tried to be talked out of sacrificial love by the Guru, American, Dr. Phil, Prosperity and BFF Jesus followers. He was abandoned by Post-Church folks for clinging too literally to what Jesus said and by the Left-Wing Jesus followers for only clinging to the teachings of Jesus. The Red-Letter Jesus people got an Old Testament clinic and those Braveheart followers saw what true courage actually looked like.
Stephen was willing to treat members of a different race - a social construct that divided Hebreic Jews and Hellenistic in the eyes of man - like they were actually made in the image of God and worthy of all the things that Jesus promised and offered humanity through His virgin birth, death, and bodily resurrection. Stephen went against his family of origin, the friends of him home culture for the sake of the Real Gospel of Jesus. He was willing to do what Jesus said and do what Jesus did with radical efficacy. So much so that they had to kill him. And ain't nobody who worships a White, Black, Latino, Asian, or Indigenous Jesus rooted in racial and ethnic segregation got time for that.
There are churches that break barriers of class and status on 6 continents (not sure about Antarctica). There are powerful gatherings of believers that preach scripture, pray in faith, worship in the Spirit and experience transformation rooted in the real, living Jesus; but unfortunately, few of those congregations are racially diverse, reconciled communities pursuing a justice rooted in God's plan for His Church laid out in Acts. May God tear down the idol of racial and ethnic segregation and we worship Jesus for who He truly is, was and will always be. Amen!