My friend yelled at me the other day. Loud. The yelling didn’t last for very long. But it was loud.
He was at my house helping me with my heating and air unit. I should probably explain what I mean by “helping.” That is, I was holding a flashlight while he was doing all of the work.
That’s when my ego got in the way. I’ve always been the flashlight holder. I spent all of my childhood holding flashlights for people. But now I’m a grown man. I’ve got to do more than just hold a flashlight. So I waited for my opportunity to spring to action. Finally, it came in the form of a handful of dirt next to a bunch of wires. This was win/win for me. I could go back inside and tell my wife that “we” took care of the heating and air unit. Also, I would have dirt on my hands. Instant romance.
But my friend wasn’t having it. As my hand reached out, he was the one springing to action.
He pushed my hand away while he screamed at me. His eyes were big and locked in on mine. I thought to myself, “Well, that’s the last time I hold a flashlight for him.”
The wires next to the dirt I was about to clean up were dangerous. Apparently the green wire was connected to the flavel valve and the red wire was grounded into the HVAC Convoy Junction Box. Something like that. And, apparently, you don’t want to touch any two wires that are connected to flavel valves and HVAC Convoy Junction Boxes. At least that’s what my friend told me. Well, something like that.
I didn’t get to walk in and tell my wife that “we” worked on the heating and air unit. Instead I told her that my friend saved my life. Or at least my hand. All because he cared enough to stop me.
Jesus works that way.
That’s something that people tend to forget. We’re very comfortable with Hippie Jesus. You know Hippie Jesus. He walked around putting flowers in people’s hair, eating figs and feeding Grape Nuts to young deer from the palm of his hand. Hippie Jesus is all about love. Words like sin and repentance make no appearance in his vocabulary.
Hippie Jesus is perfectly fine with us marrying who we want, sleeping with who we want and touching the HVAC Junction Box. Just as long as we love while we do it.
One problem. Hippie Jesus does not exist. He’s an idol crafted by a culture that values passion over truth.
The real Jesus, the one who we read about in the Bible, is all about love too. But his is real love. And real love cares enough to tell you to stop.
You’ve probably seen this sign before.
“God hates fags.”
The people holding them prefer a gospel of hate over the real one. And, as you would expect, the world lumps all Christians into that category. We’re all just a bunch of close-minded, bigoted, hateful sign holders.
So in response, many evangelical Christians have started falling all over themselves to introduce the world to Hippie Jesus. The one that’s okay with sin. The one that just wants us all to get along. The one who is nice and non-confrontational. The one who does not exist.
The real Jesus confronts sin. Yes, even sexual sin.
In John 4, we are told that Jesus “had to” pass through Samaria. Not because he was on a schedule. Not because he had a quota to meet. He “had to” go through this unclean land so that he could have a conversation with an unclean woman. A life-changing conversation.
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” John 4:16 (ESV)
The woman, thinking that she could move on from this uncomfortable topic, responds by saying, “I don’t have a husband” (John 4:17).
But Jesus doesn’t let it go.
“Right. You don’t have a husband. You’ve had five. And now you’re living with a man who is not your husband” (John 4:17-18 paraphrased).
She tries to change the subject.
“Hey look, a squirrel!” (John 4:19-20 extremely paraphrased)
But Jesus keeps the conversation going. He talks about worship. He talks about the end times. And then he shows her that he is God.
The woman’s response is peculiar. She had first met Jesus at a well in the middle of the day. This is likely because she wanted to be left alone and avoid any conversations about her past. Conversations like the one Jesus initiated with her. But after being confronted in her sin by her Creator, she begins to broadcast her sins.
So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” John 4:28-29 (ESV)
Yes, Jesus is love. But love, the real kind, cares enough to confront.
Like when Jesus healed a man who had actually sinned himself sick. We’re not given the details but we do know that the man had been sick for nearly four decades. Then Jesus healed him. And then Jesus told him to stop.
Afterward Jesus found him in he temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” John 5:14 (ESV)
By now, we’re all familiar with hate speech. I mean real hate speech, not the empty accusation that gets thrown around when someone says something that someone else disagrees with. The kind of hate speech that some have used in the name of Jesus. “God hates fags” hate speech.
But there is another type of hate speech. And it’s spoken by Christians everyday when we affirm people in their sins and promote a Hippie Jesus that does the same. This happens when we tell people that, “Jesus never said anything about gay marriage” or “Jesus doesn’t mind who is together as long as they both love each other and remain faithful.” How quickly we forget that Jesus never said anything about Ponzi Schemes but that he had plenty to say about money and greed.
I’m glad that my friend confronted me that day next to my heating and air unit. He could have affirmed me as I reached for those wires, assuming that as long as my intentions were good the shock would be less painful. He could have told me that the electricity at my house was the new kind that makes you laugh instead of hurt. He could have said nothing, fearing that his words would have offended me.
But instead, he told me the truth.
That’s what love does. It confronts when there is danger.
Anything less is just hateful.