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A Look At The Jesus Movement, Part 1

In this issue of “Theology & Culture” (T&C), we are going to discuss the Jesus Movement, and focus on a resource that was made available from the website of the movie, “Jesus Revolution,” which was just out in theaters.

In other blogs we will talk more about the history of the movement, some key figures, the theology and what impact this spiritual revolution had on our culture and what lessons we can learn for today. God did some great things back in the late 60’s and into the 1970’s at a time when our nation was divided over Vietnam, and drugs and out of control living was the thing.

Many churches, as the history of the movement shows, were not ready for an influx of the type of people that were being reached. It has been noted that this “revival” was not “geographical” as many are, but more “demographical.” Hippies, and other young adults, were being reached for Christ.

Many were disillusioned, and had found that drugs and immoral living were not bringing the answers to satisfy their souls. The Jesus Movement, though it is hard to pinpoint exactly where it began, can, I believe, be traced to the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, where Ted and Elizabeth Wise, who had become believers and began attending a small Baptist church in the area (where Liz was already going to, worked with other churches to begin an outreach into San Francisco.

The movement really picked up steam in Southern California and God began using individuals to do ministry in places such as Hollywood and the Sunset Strip. We will discuss this in a later blog.

The real challenge came when these new converts began showing up at churches. With their long hair, sandals, and sometimes no shoes at all, dressed as they were, people, unfortunately, did not want these “types” in their churches. Hard to reach the world with that type of attitude, but sadly, it was evident in some, if not many, churches during this time.

A golden opportunity to practice Matthew 22:37-40, loving God and loving our neighbor, was passed by because of how someone was perceived. This leads to where this blog is headed.

From the resource link at the “Jesus Revolution Movie,” there was a download, a church pledge, they titled it as, regarding being a “Jesus Revolution Church.” For some, just the thought behind what it is suggesting, may bother some. In reality, though, when you read what the pledge says, which I am going to share parts of in this blog, it really is nothing more than a call for the church to be the church as seen in the pages of Scripture.

Let me share. The first two lines of this “Jesus Revolution Church” sheet says, “Our doors are open—our arms are wide.” A Bible believing church needs to be two things in my thinking: (1) a spiritual university where the Word of God is taught, applied and upheld as the standard by which a church operates, and (2), a spiritual hospital, a place where people who are hurting and seeking spiritual help and answers can find them.

This does not mean we ever compromise the truth of God’s Word to placate someone. It means that we, because we do love them and care for them, are willing to bring them along in their growth in Christ, helping them, if needed, to come to faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9) and then to walk with them as they become conformed to the image of Christ.

The next three lines of this “pledge” sheet we could call it states, “There is room for you here. Your story matters here. Our love is radical here.” James 2:1-13 reminds us that churches can be places of preference. James warned against showing favoritism towards certain people while neglecting others. We can never do that.

This is not an issue of friendships. Not everyone who comes into church will be your buddy but we need to show everyone the love of Christ. Jesus said the badge of discipleship will be seen in how we love other believers (John 13:34-35), and also in how we love others (James 2:15-16; 1 John 3:17; Galatians 6:10). Though we are to care for fellow Christians, we are also to show God’s love to those outside of His spiritual kingdom. Our love is also seen in our sharing of the Gospel.

Love is an action word. We see a genuine need, we try to help. It may be just sharing a word of encouragement, coming alongside someone as they work on a project, or praying for them when they share something that is weighing them down.

The next two lines of this “pledge” state, “We are a church for the needy, for the broken, for the lost.” As mentioned above, churches should be both a university where people can discover the truths of God’s Word, and a hospital where they find hope and peace through knowing Christ.

We are not to ever have, as churches, an “us four and no more” attitude. We must recognize that every person is made in God’s image, though sin has marred that image. Sin has also left us with a broken world, and people need to know that there is a place they can find answers to their questions along with being allowed to discover Who God is and what He has to offer them.

The next two lines of the “pledge” continue with the same thoughts we just noted. It says, “We are a church for the outcast, for the wandering, for the lonely.” There are people who have had some not so good experiences at a church but they are looking for a place full of genuine, Christ-honoring people. They are looking for a spiritual family.

That is what we are to be, a place of acceptance. Again, this does not mean we have to condone someone’s lifestyle or beliefs. Our goal is to share with them the truth of God’s Word, but to do so with kindness, grace, and at times, firmness. But we must be willing to love those that are not always easy to love. Jesus ate with the tax collectors (Matthew 9) and that drove the self-righteous religious leaders up a wall.

The last two lines I want to note from this “pledge” are, “We are not perfect, but we serve a God Who is.” This is true. But we are, as God’s children, new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). We have victory over sin’s control in our life because of the death and resurrection of Christ. We are not perfect, but we are also not what we were before. And thankfully, we serve a God Who is perfect, holy, merciful and gracious. He is also just and righteous, All-Knowing, and loving. This is only a short list of His attributes as seen in Scripture.

What I have shared in this blog is not earth-shattering. I realize that. I am thankful that as I read through and shared in this blog, “We are a Jesus Revolution Church,” it reminded me of Oakridge Community Church. I see how our people reach out to new folks who walk through our doors, how they serve the community and each other. And for that, I am humbled to serve with them.

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