We all have our picture of Jesus. For some of us, we like to think of him as a close friend. For others, it’s more natural to view Jesus as a father figure. The Jesus of the Bible has both of those aspects to him, and much more.
One of the more popular versions of Jesus these days is Hippie Jesus. People don’t really call him that, but I hear about him all the time. I feel like I can’t go more than a day without encountering some variation of Hippie Jesus.
Hippie Jesus is a guy who has a flowing robe, feathered Bee Gees hair, and a perpetual smile framed by a handlebar mustache. This is the Jesus that “accepts” everybody the way they are. This is the Jesus that our society is comfortable talking about. This is the Jesus that would say to someone who was cheating on their spouse, “It’s cool – I’m not here to judge. You know I love you no matter what!”
Most people like Hippie Jesus. It’s easy to like him, because he doesn’t require anything of us. Pretty convenient.
The truth of the matter is that Hippie Jesus isn’t real. You can’t find him in the Bible. The Jesus of the Bible does not “accept” everyone the way they are – he calls us to radical life change. The Jesus of the Bible did not come to make us feel warm and fuzzy about ourselves, or to validate our own agendas and priorities.
No, Jesus came to save us and give us an amazing set of new priorities – following him and sharing the good news of his salvation with the world.
The Jesus described in the Bible is absolutely loving. He reached out to all types of people: rich, poor, old, young, men, women, Jews, Gentiles, free, slaves – and he loved them all. But just because he loved them doesn’t mean that he approved of everything they did. Jesus came to seek and save what was lost – i.e. those who had gone astray [Luke 19:10].
Hippie Jesus would never say “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23).
That’s a little intense for Hippie Jesus.
Hippie Jesus would never tell someone caught in adultery to “leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11).
That sounds a little judgmental for Hippie Jesus.
I could go on.
We all have to ask ourselves this question: Where do my ideas about Jesus come from? If our view of Jesus is not based on all of the contents of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), then we run the risk of inventing our own Jesus. We are in danger of imposing our ideas about God onto Jesus, rather than letting the Jesus of the Bible speak to us.
Jesus is fully God, but he was also a real historical person whose life and message are recorded in the Gospels. He is not some mythical character that we can remake in our own image. He is not open to interpretation.
Jesus is who he is.
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