It's Friday afternoon. I've listened to the lectures I planned to listen to. I've gone for a jog. The dog is asleep. My wife won't be home for three hours. There is nothing between me and the electric sublimity of a Netflix binge.
When I'm alone and I pull up Netflix, I have my pick of the litter. I choose what I want to watch and for how long. With no one to challenge my opinions, I can say whatever I want about the television program; I can even decide what it means, regardless of what the creators intended that meaning to be. I have no obligation to defend my thoughts to anyone else; this is my home, my thoughts, my Netflix time, and no one has a right to say what I think is wrong or right. In my private world, the message conforms to me.
This observation would be unnoteworthy (though admittedly egocentric) if it weren't precisely how our culture often regards Jesus. I come across individuals whose Christian faith I would never guess for the simple reason that their words and actions are utterly unrecognizable to the prescriptions of the Gospel, which calls us to love and to be transformed into something lovable, and they justify this simply by saying it's their interpretation of the Bible.
Disagreement is just a matter of opinion. Who are you to tell me what to think?
This is symptomatic of the privatizing of faith, wherein we trick ourselves into believing that belief itself is only personal and subjective, a mere matter of opinion, a notion to entertain as long as it entertains us in our private sphere. This is the Netflix Jesus: watch the things you want to watch, ignore the parts you'd rather skip. It is idol-making in the comfort of our own home.
The Netflix Jesus puts no pressure on us to be "transformed by the renewal of your mind," no pressure to love the unlovely, no pressure to make disciples. He is effectively nothing, but very convenient. His message conforms to us. The Netflix Jesus is not worth claiming, for he has no power or authority. It begs the question why anyone would want to be a part of that ministry at all.