A spark from the Jesus Revolution drifted across the country in the early 70’s and ignited something in my heart. I had no idea it would take another 50 years to fan that flickering ember into a roaring flame.
I became a Christian at 13 in a decade when fringed vests, love beads, bell bottoms, and headbands were “far out”. The nightly news moaned and groaned over Woodstock, Vietnam, assassinations, the Kent State massacre, and hippies. Many believed that all the kids just a few years older than me had lost their minds. Some who went off to war or experimented with LSD and heroine did.
Our young rebellious generation, along with the condition of the world, scared the life out of parents and church leaders My parents seemed happy that I enjoyed our youth group at church. My mom, much wiser than I gave her credit for, often began conversations with “I’m glad you don’t … And I’m so glad you do …” In her own way, she laid down absolute rules without them seeming like rules.
The Jesus Revolution employed a similar replacement strategy. Instead of using drugs and sex, teens were encouraged to look to Jesus as the One Way to find true peace and love. Conservative churches threatened by the transformation of all those Jesus Freaks hunkered down to stand their religious ground. Thankfully, my church embraced a more accepting and less legalistic attitude than most other churches in our tribe. However, fear often forces leaders to act out of character.
Perhaps reluctantly, our youth group was given permission to attend a film born out of the Jesus Revolution ONLY IF we didn’t respond to any sort of invitation given at the end. Our church tribe’s beliefs about salvation were different from the ones promoting the film, but I have yet to understand their stipulation. The movie sparked something new inside me. I heard about Jesus in a different sort of way. One that made me want more. But, I was (and am) a rule follower, so I stayed in my seat.
For too many years afterward, I felt like a race horse at the gate ready to explode so I could freely run the race marked out for me. Religion held me back, but the Spirit kept urging me on until I finally found the freedom I’d longed for.
This past Saturday afternoon, as we watched the new movie Jesus Revolution, all these memories came flooding back. I was reminded of places and faces of the 70’s. I remembered what it felt like to know there was something more. Then I realized it had taken me 50 years to find it, but I did find it!
I often wonder what my life would have been like if I’d only found it sooner. If I’m not careful, regret will take a seat in my heart. So instead, I choose to believe in God’s providence and His perfect timing. He knew it would take me some time, and He’s good with that.
Lord, let us never hold back a generation from finding a real relationship with You. May we never let our traditions and religious rules place a wall between us and those who simply need to know that Jesus is who He says He is, that He can do what He says He can do, and, most of all, that He can do it for them! Fill our hearts with a spirit of love for those who seem to enjoy the spirit of offense and criticism. Keep the spirit of revival alive in young and old hearts. Lord, forgive us when we don’t listen. Use us to spread Your peace and love.
(New Living Translation)
“Who has believed our message?
To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?
My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,
like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,
nothing to attract us to him.
He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.
Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
the sins of us all.
He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.
he was led away.
No one cared that he died without descendants,
that his life was cut short in midstream.
But he was struck down
for the rebellion of my people.
He had done no wrong
and had never deceived anyone.
But he was buried like a criminal;
he was put in a rich man’s grave.
But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him
and cause him grief.
Yet when his life is made an offering for sin,
he will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.
When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish,
he will be satisfied.
And because of his experience,
my righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
for he will bear all their sins.
I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier,
because he exposed himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.”