I like Jesus, I just can’t stand the church (or Christians).
The sentiment above is all too common among the unchurched and those not claiming faith in Christ. They like Jesus (at least, their version of Jesus), but can’t stand anyone who follows Him.
While I’ll be the first to admit the Church has failed miserably at times to represent the true nature of the One we claim to follow, I’m not so sure they like the real Jesus.
Hippie-Jesus: The Likable Version
The prevailing image of Jesus in the minds of many believers and non-believers is what I call Hippie-Jesus: He’s chill, doesn’t care what you do, and would never, under any circumstances, make you feel guilty or confront you about a way of life that makes you happy.
Hippie-Jesus doesn’t tell you to stop sinning.
Hippie-Jesus doesn’t confront the issues in your life.
Hippie-Jesus ultimately just wants you to be happy, and would never tell you to give something up that makes you happy.
Who wouldn’t like this version of Jesus — the Jesus who says do what you want and still gives you a ticket to Heaven?
Hard Teachings of the Real Jesus
The real Jesus taught lessons most people would have (and still do) find incredibly hard to reconcile with the Hippie-Jesus version they love so much. Here are just 10 of those teachings.
Anger = Murder
“But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”
Who in their life hasn’t been angry? Who hasn’t called someone a fool, idiot, or moron (or thought it)? It’s a natural emotion, one often feel when people hurt us or don’t do what we want them to do.
Anger isn’t that big of a deal — but to Jesus, it is.
He taught that being angry at someone is the same thing to God as murdering them. If you’ve ever been angry at someone, you are not better than the person sitting in prison for murdering someone.
You don’t win popularity votes for telling people they are no better than murderers.
Lust = Adultery
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Jesus didn’t stop with just comparing us to murderers. He taught that if you ever looked lustfully at a woman (or women – if you’ve ever looked lustfully at a man), you are an adulterer.
Being maimed is better than sinning.
“If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
Jesus had a serious view of sin: He taught it was better to maim yourself than it was to sin.Click To Tweet
Metaphor or not, this wouldn’t win Jesus any brownie points in the eyes of those who like Hippie-Jesus. Gouge out your eye? Cut off your hand? Is looking at porn or hitting someone really that bad?
We don’t view sin as worse than bodily harm; yet, that is how Jesus saw and taught about sin.
Love those who hate you.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
No one, not even followers of Jesus, like this teaching.
Love those who hate you? Pray for people who hurt you? Who does that?!
Understand, Jesus wasn’t saying to just love those who annoy you. He meant: love those who kill your family member, love those who purposely injure you, love those who break into your home and steal everything you own, love those who don’t agree with you, love those who lie to you, love those who spread vicious rumors about you, love those who bomb your country, love those who strap bombs to their chest and kill innocent people, love those who sue you.
In other words: don’t listen to your emotions or desire for revenge. Do something that will be crushingly uncomfortable and take every ounce of your being to follow.
Jesus is the only way to God (i.e. – all religions are not the same).
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Jesus would not win any politically correct awards for this teaching. In one statement, He nullifies the long-held belief that all paths lead to God and calls every religion false.
Saying He was the only way to the Father would make Jesus one of the most hated people alive today.Click To Tweet
He would be labeled an intolerant bigot, condemned for not accommodating other people’s faiths, and make Him the butt of parodies, news casters, and politicians alike.
Jesus came to divide.
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”
Hippie-Jesus wants us all to get along. He’s the version of Jesus with the Coexist bumper sticker singing Kumbaya.
Jesus didn’t come to bring everyone together. He came to divide – a hard teaching to believe.Click To Tweet
Jesus said following Him would cause division — division in your home, division with your friends, division with those who don’t want to follow after Him. He didn’t tell us to try and bring division — to be purposefully offensive and mean — but He did say there will be a dividing line.
People will hate those who follow Jesus, even those who are supposed to love you.
Don’t follow Jesus? Then you are against Him.
“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
There’s a prevailing mindset that you either follow Jesus, or He’s just not your thing. Going through your day, not giving a second thought to the whole Jesus and religion thing doesn’t mean you hate God or are against Him, you just have no desire to do the whole religious thing.
Jesus had a different view.
He said if you aren’t with Him, you are against Him. He left no middle ground, no “religion’s just not my thing” option.
If you don’t acknowledge Jesus, He will disown you.
“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.“
Jesus is known for an unending supply of mercy and grace — of loving us and forgiving us unconditionally, which is true. He loves every single person, died to pay the penalty for our sins, and rose so we might have new life.
He did His part, but we have a part to play as well.
Jesus wants us to acknowledge Him before others — not to hide our faith, but to show and tell others who He is and what He has done. If we disown Him (act like He isn’t real, keep Him to ourselves, deny that we know Him through our words and actions), He will do the same on judgement day.
Jesus > Everyone Else
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”
Hippie-Jesus understands your love for other people and is okay with taking a back seat to every other relationship in your life.
The real Jesus taught something different.
It’s not that Jesus wants you to hate people, or push them aside so you can pursue Him more; but He should be the most important relationship in your life.
You’re forgiven. Now stop sinning.
“Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.””
Jesus steps into a circle of religious zealots who are about to maim a woman for sleeping with someone else’s husband and turns the tables back on them. Surely, this is Hippie-Jesus as His finest.
He condemns the religious, stands up for the outsider, and tells her she is forgiven.
That is a likable Jesus.
Jesus doesn’t stop with forgiveness. He commands us to leave our lives of sin.Click To Tweet
Stop sleeping with whoever you want. Stop having sex with any guy who pursues you. Quit cheating with married men.
Jesus doesn’t just forgive her, He confronts this woman’s sin and tells her to stop.
Not cool, Jesus.
Better than Hippie-Jesus
Contrary to what many people believe, the real Jesus wouldn’t win many popularity contests, especially with the way He taught about sin, other religions, and what it means to be in right standing with Him.
But the real Jesus has something Hippie-Jesus can’t compete with — He loves you.
Hippie-Jesus may tell you everything you want to hear, make following him easy and comfortable, and allow you to do whatever you want without feeling confronted, but he isn’t real and he doesn’t love you.
Love isn’t about telling someone everything they want to hear just to get them to like you. There’s a word for that: manipulation.
Real love will allow you to be uncomfortable to save you from choices that will destroy you. Click To Tweet
Jesus loves you, whether you like Him or not.
Hippie-Jesus? He’s just a sad fraction of the real thing.
(Image via Jun’s World cc)