The term hippie is derived from a countercultural movement which started in North America in the 1960s and eventually influenced the whole globe. This movement emphasized freedom, open love which fueled the sexual revolution, and an anti-establishment liberality. With slogans like “flower power” and “make love, not war,” its approach to religion was nothing new, but a de-emphasis on particulars, and a stress on all things positive. Contemporary renditions of the movement include the New Age movement, bohemians, and other “spiritual, but not religious” ideologies. They claim to have the innate exegetical ability to distinguish that which is positive and core from that which is negative and superfluous. Many consider Jesus to have taught free love and spiritual freedom from negative “vibes.”
Yes, He had a beard; and the paintings have Him with the iconic long hairstyle and “sash.” But those things do not make Jesus a hippie. We need to view Christ from a biblical lens—from His own teachings. Though Jesus was the embodiment of love and taught all things positive, there are some things that are striking.
For example, John 15:18–25 has our Lord saying some sharp words, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you…He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause’” (NKJV). The passage ends with Christ quoting from an imprecatory prayer from David. It’s not that Jesus is bitter and desiring to curse His enemies. Rather Jesus came and drew sharp lines between the world and heaven (Matt. 10:34). He taught and lived out the principles of the kingdom of heaven fully knowing that many would hate Him and these principles. He had, does, and will have enemies. But it’s clear that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12, NKJV). He is the Victor in a larger spiritual war (Rev. 14:7–12).
It was not holy escapism that Christ taught or superficially saccharine spirituality. Jesus fought and continues to fight as our Warrior-King, pursuing the salvation of souls, and ultimately desirous to eliminate our carnal natures (Rom. 6:4–9) for the conversion of the worldly to the spiritual. This implies passion, zeal, fortitude, passion, and a certain intensity that can only be explained in the context of this sinful world, the holiness of heaven, and the righteousness of Christ.