The One Person Who Can’t Be Themselves in Our Culture

reflection mirror be yourself Jesus

The modern age may be described as a quest for the authentic self.

Watch any amount of television aimed at children and you will be inundated with calls to “be yourself.” The hero discovers who they really are and their true identity is what they needed to achieve success.

But it’s not only on cartoons and kids’ shows, adults are overwhelmed with the message as well. The term “authentic” has doubled in usage among books since the 1920s and “authenticity” has nearly tripled.

But in this age when everyone is allowed to be themselves to the fullest extent imaginable, there’s one person who constantly doesn’t get that opportunity: Jesus.

We don’t give the Jesus the one thing we demand of others. We refuse to accept Jesus without trying to change Him more to our liking.

We read His words, but explain them away to fit our preconceived ideas. We sand off his rough edges to fit our mold.

For the progressives, Jesus is only about love and acceptance, ironically enough given that they often do not accept His teachings on topics like morality, sexuality, hell and Jesus being the only way for salvation.

For the fundamentalists, Jesus is exclusively focused on truth, even though they may ignore the truthfulness of His showing grace, extending mercy, pursuing justice, and calling for us to live lives of sacrificial love.

Elton John says he sees Jesus as “a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems.”

Your redneck uncle sees Jesus draped in an American flag, riding an eagle, dropping bombs on illegal immigrants and Muslims.

It’s so strange how the Jesus we like to picture somehow always looks like us. He condemns the sins we hate and ignores the sins we commit.

One of the best proofs that Christianity is not a man-made religion is that in many ways Jesus looks nothing like us.

The way He condemned all sins, not just the ones engaged in by people we don’t like. The way He forgave all sins, not just the ones we indulge in. It is completely not like us.

And that’s why we don’t allow Jesus to be Himself. He’s not like us. He challenges us and convicts us like no other person, yet He’s compelling, so we instinctively want Him “on our side.”

But it’s never been about Jesus being on our side.

In what many scholars see as a pre-incarnate visitation by Jesusin Joshua 5, the commander of the Lord’s armies appears before Joshua as the Israelite leader was sneaking up on a city they were preparing to attack.

Joshua, seeing an imposing figure with a sword, asks the obvious question, “Are you on our side or our enemies?” To which the person responded: “Neither.”

Jesus’ desire is not to join your side, but to have you join His. He is not waiting for you to reshape Him into your image; He’s longing to shape you into His.

The one person we refuse to allow them to be themselves is the one person we should desperately strive to be like.

Don’t refuse to Jesus what you demand for yourself. Recognize Him as who He is and allow Him to mold and shape you into His image and become the very person you were created to be.



  1. Becca

    This really hits home. Thank you for speaking the truth

  2. Dewey Clevenger

    You mentioned 4 groups in the beginning of your article. Which group would you most identify: progressive, fundamentalist,Elton John, or red neck uncle ?

    • As a conservative, my temptations are more toward the fundamentalist end of the spectrum on most issues, though I have times when I want to soften Jesus’ words as the stereotypical progressive.

      In short, I am tempted to shape Jesus to be whatever suits my feelings at the moment.

  3. Bart

    There is a grammatical disagreement in number within the title of this article which really sounds like political correctness: one person, themselves. Is that what was intended?

    • I’m not sure what you mean by “political correctness,” but the title was only intended to be an enticing headline, leaving the reader wondering who this person could be that is not allowed to be himself or herself. I could have used just that “himself or herself,” but it seemed too long and cumbersome for a headline and “themselves” is acceptable as a singular pronoun in this type of usage.

      • Robert E. Hays

        You SHOULD have used “himself or herself” or just “himself” instead of the ridiculous “themselves.” A PERSON = THEMSELVES? Not in my book. Not in the book of anyone who cares about grammar, logic, etc. As Bart indicated, this was not an issue until a couple of decades ago when the radical feminists got their panties in a wad about using the generic male pronoun in a case such as this. The use of the plural, when it should be singular, is a tip of the fedora to radical feminism, unknown or not.

        • I find it interesting that you have ignored the content of the post (a call to allow Jesus to be Himself and challenge us to be like Him) to note your vehement disagreement with a word choice—which I explained—all the while complaining about others who complained about word usage.

          I assure you, I care about grammar and logic, but I’m much more passionate about people seeing Jesus for who He is and allowing Scripture to shape their lives. If you have passions other than this, that is for you to decide.

          • Charles Gibson

            I was thinking the same thing as I read Robert Hays critique. It would have been more useful, more iron-sharpening for him to have commented on the overall purpose of your post, then as an aside mention, a “small point” about the headline.

            But lest I be guilty of the same unkindness, let me surmise that this “feminization of America” is so repugnant to Mr. Hays that his sense of Christian decorum (assuming he is a Christ follower) lost its bearing.

            Let’s all understand that our passions sometimes cause us to communicate imperfectly, and furthermore, let us be as merciful and encouraging to each other as Christ is to us. “Charity thinketh no evil.”

            The whole point of this article very nicely makes the point that we are to be conforming ourselves to Christ in every way–even, and, maybe, especially–in the way we communicate.

            By the way, excellent article.

  4. Aaron Kin

    Well said. I was referred to your site from Challies. com. I think of the Scripture from Isaiah referring to the Potter and the Clay when it comes to what people want to “mold” Jesus into.

About Author

Aaron Earls

Christian. Husband. Daddy. Writer. Online editor for Facts & Trends Magazine. Fan of quick wits, magical wardrobes, brave hobbits, time traveling police boxes & Blue Devils.