I came to faith in Jesus during that momentous time in the early 1970’s known as “The Jesus Movement.” Coming out of the hippie culture of the ’60s, the Holy Spirit was drawing young adults into the Kingdom of God, beginning in San Francisco, spreading through California, and eventually sweeping across the country and around the world.
In “Worship Leader” magazine, September 2013 edition, Melody Green, widow of Jesus Music icon Keith Green, makes some observations about that movement that I would like to pass on to you.
She says, “God’s love took our generation by total surprise. We learned how to pray and were baptized wherever water was found. As simple as that – in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – we were born again.” It wasn’t about church. Many of these “kids” had never been in church or had been raised in churches that had long ago lost the life. All of a sudden, they were finding Life in small groups. They were reading the Bible and doing what they read. If ever there were a group of people who were “doers of the Word, and not hearers only,” it was the “Jesus People.”
Melody continues: “Without missing a beat, we raced back to our friends and families to tell them they needed Jesus, too. We took ‘Light’ back into darkness. We were dangerous to the devil.” (italics added). We were dangerous to the devil! Lord, if there is anything that I want to be, it is to be dangerous to the devil! How much better for him to be afraid of me than for me to be afraid of him! The implication, even though she doesn’t come right out and say it, is, “We didn’t know any better.” They hadn’t been taught that they were supposed to be afraid of the devil. They hadn’t been taught that they should be careful how they approached people with the Gospel, because they might offend them. They had experienced new life and they simply wanted to share it!
Melody writes: “Every gathering was exciting. Fresh-faced newcomers felt accepted as they were recognized and warmly embraced. We prayed for them during the message and clapped as they went forward to meet their Savior. One thing was certain: we were not ashamed of Jesus.” How many of us in church leadership in 2013 would like that to be the description of our church services? Let it be so!
She continues: “Gatherings were often improvised because most of us didn’t know what we were doing. We made mistakes and lacked wisdom, but there were no blueprints for our untraditional generation. Today we have more skill and super-specialized teachings than ever, so why do we look back with such longing?” Those who have only known church as it is may only feel like there is something missing. They may not realize that there has ever been anything different; but isn’t Melody’s question haunting? “Why do we look back with such longing?”
There is something missing! As I read this article by Melody Green and the next one by worship artist Daniel Bashta entitled “I am the Jesus Movement,” my eyes welled up with tears and I literally choked up with emotion. It isn’t a question of going back to an earlier “good old days” time. It is about a movement of the Holy Spirit in us now that returns us to the energy and perspective of those early believers, not in the 1970’s but in the first century.
Listen to Melody Green: “The simple faith that defined a powerful move of God has in some ways been replaced by super-‘sonic’ church services. I’m grateful that a worship movement has been birthed. Worship lifts us to another level and gives us comfort. but let’s also be energized to go back for those who need this comfort too. Those who still need to meet Jesus.”