We now live in a culture where anyone can be offended by anything – like for literally the craziest of reasons. In fact, it is now considered “sexual harassment” to give someone a compliment. If you accidentally call a woman a “she” when the person prefers to be called a “ze,” that’s offensive; and if you are in a room filled with only white people, then that’s downright micro-aggression.
So basically, there’s a cultural license to feel oppressed for stupid reasons and to play the victim because you feel sad. This license which allows people to rapidly go from bystander to victim also has shifted the culture from truth-teller to enabler.
Since everything is now offensive, it is harder for someone to tell the truth without being called out as some word that ends with -ist or -phobic. But, our society needs the truth, even if they think they can’t handle it. Why? Because while the truth can be terribly offensive, it is also terribly important. And right now, the lack of truth is more harmful than any amount of offensive truth. This is because our culture’s politically correct mentality has seeped into almost every facet of life, including religion.
The Gospel is offensive, plain and simple. It basically says we are all awful people, we can’t do anything by ourselves, we need someone to save us from our awfulness, and then we have to dedicate our entire lives to that being who saved us. But, while it might offend you that you aren’t perfect, the Gospel is arguably the most important truth ever presented.
This brings me to the Subway Jesus concept. Our culture likes to pick and choose the aspects of truth that seem the least offensive. When it comes to God, apparently His wrath and judgement is a little bit too offensive to handle. In turn, our culture creates an all loving God that forgives when you make a mistake. While true, we cannot pick and choose the parts we like about God and throw away the others. We cannot build our own Subway Jesus.
As much as our culture tries to contort God into a solely loving being, it does not take away from the truth. It does not take away from the fact that God is both ultimate love and ultimate justice. If you take out the “we are sinners” part and only leave the mercy part of God, then it would not make sense. Why would we need mercy if we aren’t sinners?
And if you only have the “we are sinners” and God is merciful parts, but no wrath or justice, that wouldn’t work well either. Because then, the person who took away a piece of you or left you with a wound that will never heal, or even Hitler himself, would be free with no need of any consequences, because God would only be merciful and loving, not just or wrathful.
Our culture has proposed a Subway Jesus that just doesn’t pan out because despite how you want Him to be portrayed, God is forever unchanging. This is affecting our church and our culture. So many people have rationalized sin because of God’s great love. But it is not our job to rationalize our sins. It is our job to admit our sins and with the power of God, flee from them.
We must rid the concept of Subway Jesus and embrace the fact the God is a complex and perfect being with multiple aspects. Whether you like it or not, He is perfect love, mercy, grace, justice, wrath, comfort, counsel, and so on. Despite the parts that might sound best to culture, if we don’t embrace every aspect of God, then we are misrepresenting Him.
When it comes to the God of the universe, it is probably better to represent God as a whole then misconstrue any aspect of Him just because culture doesn’t like it. He’s a package deal, and every part of the package is there for a reason. While our imperfect minds may never be able fully comprehend every aspect of God, we can have faith that every aspect of God is perfect, and nothing is better than that.