One of the neatest toys from childhood is Mr Potato Head. A simple little toy with hundreds of options. When I was a kid my favorite thing was to make the potato head into a creature straight from a nightmare...Eyes where the arms go, arms out of the eyes, nose on top of the head. It just wasn't as fun to just make him look normal.
That attitude of remaking everything to suit our own needs/desires is a pretty common one. We try to remake our spouses, our friends, our jobs, our kids, etc. Too often we don't want to accept things and people the way they are, we want to remold them after our own images.
And this attitude influences our relationship with God.
God and Jesus have been through quite a makeover the past few decades. Amazingly the makeover has less to do with God Himself, and more with culture. The God of scripture has always stood over cultural trends and eras, but lately it would appear that an "evolving" society is tired of a God who draws us to Himself and out of our selves, but instead is looking for a god that will follow and affirm where we have already decided to go.
I was recently reading an article about someone's problems with the bible and church. An actual statement was that the bible needs to be updated and revised to be more in alignment with our new society. This is the sort of god that is no longer an "embarrassment" to those with more nuanced and modern sensibilities. It is a god that is a fancy designer handbag to wear as a philosophical accessory.
The response by orthodox believers and the church has sadly been unhelpful. It's not that they don't try to speak truth when issues arise, but that they are spending all their time running from fire to fire desperately trying to put it out, without ever addressing the problem of what is starting all of these fires.
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
At the heart of all of these debates is that we are not asking and answering the fundamental question....Who IS Jesus.
When Jesus becomes nothing more than an accessory to add and remove depending on our current whims, than we can manipulate him to fit into any box we desire. Don't like what he has to say about sin, pop out that interchangeable part and pop in some "love" instead. Worried that his statements about sex and marriage are too antiquated, pop that out, pop in some affirming philosophical mumbo jumbo that makes you feel better.
If the answer to the question of who do we say He is, is that He is the Messiah, then all of that changes radically. The son of the Living God, the King of Creation, the Risen Messiah, is not some childish toy that we manipulate and adapt to be more appealing to our current thought processes. Instead of demanding He adhere to our standards, we are forced to recognize that it is us that must adhere to His.
Timothy Keller wrote that if the God we are following seems to always agree with how we feel, then we are not following God at all, just an idealized idolatrous image of ourselves. If Jesus is the Messiah, than there is a implied correlating truth; You are NOT the messiah. This means that our own opinions and thoughts on a matter should be held skeptically. The goal is not finding a way to shoe horn God's opinion into alignment with our own, but to be willing to submit our thinking to His Truth.
As long as we do not address this fundamental issue, "Who IS Jesus??", we will always be putting out fires. Should we speak truth in the face of falsehood? Sure. But if we do not address the heart of the matter, there will always be another fire to put out.