Originally recorded by Depeche Mode and later by Johnny Cash and the anti-Christian icon, Marilyn Manson (among others), the song “Your Own Personal Jesus” has been ranked #368 in Rolling Stone‘s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”, and was voted as one of the “100 Greatest Songs Ever” in Q magazine. I am posting the Johnny Cash version of the song, because I find the other video versions offensive.


Lyrics for Personal Jesus

Your own personal Jesus

Someone to hear your prayers

Someone who cares

Your own personal Jesus

Someone to hear your prayers

Someone who’s there

Feeling unknown And you’re all alone

Flesh and bone By the telephone

Lift up the receiver I’ll make you a believer

Take second best Put me to the test

Things on your chest You need to confess

I will deliver You know I’m a forgiver

Reach out and touch faith Reach out and touch faith

Your own personal Jesus…

 Each version of the song was recorded with a different intent depending on the artist. Depeche Mode intended it as a statement of how people are so co-dependent in their human relationships that they idolize each other to the point of worship and express undue adulation. Their version also is heavily laced with sexual innuendo.  Marilyn Manson intended it as an irreverent mockery of Christians and their “need” for faith. Johnny Cash meant it sincerely, demonstrating the genuine need of every person to find forgiveness through Christ.

The song has been going through my head the past couple of days as I have been thinking about the state of the American evangelical church world. I think this song could very well be the theme song of contemporary Western Christianity. I’ve heard a zillion sermons that sound like they could have been lifted from this very rock tune.

“The Gospel” is presented in most preaching today as being all about the individual and their needs. You need a “personal savior” to help you to “Become A Better You” so that you can have “Your Best Life Now.” They say, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for you life, so why don’t you take five minutes and ask Jesus to come into your heart and be your own personal savior? That’s all there is to it! Just believe (doesn’t matter much WHAT) and you will be saved.” Despite the fact that the Bible never uses this terminology or methodology, it has become the de facto method of evangelism in our day.

The “Personal Jesus” that is preached today is the “therapeutic, self-help, moralistic Jesus who helps you to cope with life, and feel better about yourself.” I wish I could break this to you gently…but salvation is NOT ALL ABOUT YOU!!! The focus of the gospel is not based in us, or anything related to our needs. It is about the Lord Jesus Christ receiving the reward of His suffering! It is about Him receiving the Bride that He bled and died to redeem.

Yes, you are forgiven, yes, you get to go to heaven when you die, yes, you get to live a life of peace and joy. Yes, there are great rewards for forsaking your former love of sin and self and turning to Christ. But this is not all about you. It’s all about Jesus. Not your personal Jesus, but the Jesus of history and eternity who created everything that is FOR HIS PLEASURE and has redeemed a people to Himself. We need to start proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus Christ, not on the psychological needs of fallen humans.

The self-help gospel is an incomplete gospel. Jesus is the focus of the gospel, not us. I love how Paul Washer puts this:

Jesus didn’t die for your sins. He died for YOU. He didn’t want your sins. They were just what separated you from Him. He had to get rid of your sin so that He could have YOU! What he wanted was to have all of YOU, completely under His Lordship. What will your new life look like if you truly surrender to Christ? Check out this powerful message by Steve Lawson:


Don’t come to Jesus because you need help coping with your life. Come to Jesus because He is worthy to receive all of you, because He created you, and purchased you with His blood. He is worthy, that is why we love and serve Him.

For more on this, I would recommend an excellent book by John Piper entitled, God is the Gospel.

Israel Wayne is an Author and Conference Speaker who serves as the Director of Family Renewal, LLC and Site Editor for www.ChristianWorldview.net