Shattered Dreams

Between 1967 and 1972 the Vietnam War caused a deep unrest in the youth of America to come to the surface. Along with the three assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy in a five-year period (1963-1968), growing anti-war sentiment catapulted that restlessness into a movement that could not be contained. It broke out on the Berkeley campus through the Free Speech movement. Almost overnight, opposition to the war became the catalyst for speaking out against the infrastructure of Nixon America and the American culture.

At first it was not so clear that there was an underlying spiritual hunger in the youth of America. Their collective cry reverberated feelings that “We are not our parents,” “We are not university trustees,” “We are not American capitalists,” and “We do not want to die in a senseless war.” They had given up on the values of past generations and were willing to strike a new course, even though they did not know where it would lead. They saw established Christianity as having nothing and doing nothing about the problems they were concerned about. The last thing they wanted to do was to sit on a pew and hear another sermon that fueled the status quo of mainstream American life.

There was also a very strong reaction against the misuse of America’s great wealth. The “60s was the height of the empire, a time when the government and the people had access to the most money ever available. But in the eyes of this generation, America’s wealth was being squandered building a war machine and fattening the pockets of giant corporations while many lived beneath the poverty line in a near welfare state. Neither the politicians nor the preachers were doing anything to end the economic injustice this generation saw all around them. This environment was the hotbed of rebellion for that whole generation.

Love was the answer! LSD was the way! A revolution had begun! “Make love, not war” was the philosophy that caused the youth at Berkeley and all across the land to shed their parents’ values, their religion, and their American dream. They cast off restraint and followed their own dreams. In their search for a place to belong they participated in “acid tests,” went to Merry Pranksters events, “Human Be-Ins” in Golden Gate Park, Whole Earth Festivals, Grateful Dead shows, and experiments with communal living.

But it didn’t take long for the dreams to shatter. The leadership of the Movement was a disaster, old-fashioned greed began to raise its ugly head, and the LSD didn’t work. Drugs only eased the pain but didn’t change the reality. John Lennon’s song Imagine was only good ideas with no way to attain to them. Free love didn’t last, so neither did relationships. A lot of young people were deeply damaged by this. They still wanted love. They wanted something radical. They wanted something real, not just a utopian ideal.

Even before the hippie movement crashed, the preachers were ready to cash in on it. They, too, showed up for the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley and took advantage of the opportunity to speak out on campus. They latched onto the same themes of the “60s and pointed the disillusioned hippies to Jesus. These preachers had long hair, wore beads and blue jeans. Through their dark shades and hip talk, they promised these searching young people that Jesus would give them love, he would solve their problems and he would heal the damage from the failed Movement of the radical hippies.

These brand new “Jesus Freaks” heeded the call, thinking they were being led out of the camp of dead religion that had no answers and no life and into the camp of Jesus where they would find the love they were looking for. This was the real revolution... the Jesus Revolution! They had finally found a life of love — a Jesus’ love! It looked so real and it felt so real to them. After all, these preachers were part of them, or so it seemed. Gone was the rigid structure of organized religion they had known growing up. They were not meeting in church buildings but on beaches and in parks. They weren’t singing stuffy old hymns, but their own music, with beautiful melodies played on acoustic guitars. Love, peace, and harmony were possible and they believed it couldn’t fail. They were getting high on Jesus and didn’t need anything else. There was a free-flowing stream of good feelings, good vibes, and praise to the Jesus that made it happen. Yes! This was real, and this was going to last forever.

The Jesus People thought they had truly escaped the mainstream camp of dead religion that Jesus said you had to leave in order to follow Him.1 However, as time went on, the beach ministries moved into buildings and things began to shift back toward what the Jesus Freaks thought they had left behind. Some old skeletons began to raise their ugly heads. More than a few fell into sexual immorality, and the age-old plague handed down for generations in Christendom — division.

History is a great teacher, if we will pay attention. Time and time again, the voice that has led disillusioned believers out of their dead churches has not had the authority to restore the church to the dynamic life of love it once had in the beginning. It has not had the power or the authority to call people outside the camp and into the place where Jesus is, because those making the call are entrenched inside the divided camp themselves.2 The Jesus Movement was no exception. This is the history and legacy of Christianity.

But the spirit of Christianity is a powerful drug. Even though it doesn’t have the authority to call anyone out of the camp, it does seduce those in its ranks into accepting the old established norms of society and religion. Now that the Jesus Movement has proven to be just a more streamlined, contemporary expression of the divided and corrupt religious camp most thought they were leaving behind, it would be fair to ask old Jesus Freaks if they got hoodwinked into smoking the spiritual opium that sedates the masses.

Getting high on Jesus has, 30 years later, led the throngs of people “saved” in the Jesus Movement back into the status quo. In fact, the Jesus Movement has become the status quo for thousands in mainstream America. The spirit that used to burn people at the stake for disagreeing with the favored denomination now numbs its followers to the point that they don’t even notice when others divide. Chuck Smith, the founder of Calvary Chapel, deals this drug regularly to his followers. He even says it right on his website: “The more spiritual a person becomes, the less denominational he is. We should realize that we’re all part of the Body of Christ and that there aren’t any real divisions in the Body. We’re all one.” Now that spirit isn’t allowed to kill people who disagree, so it must be content to sedate them into staying inside the camp, becoming ever more comfortably conformed to the traditions and ways of the world around them. These drugged followers accept Billy Graham’s kissing the ring of the Pope. They accept their pastors committing adultery without stepping down. They barely muster the strength to discipline priests who sexually abuse children. This is the ecumenical spirit that is taking over the world.

True sheep know they are trapped by this spirit in Christianity but they don’t see a way out. Always, always, always the tendency is to believe it can’t happen, that there can’t be a witness of love demonstrated in hundreds of communities that are in true unity, at least not until Jesus comes back. If this is true, it means that the Holy Spirit is not great enough to bring about John 17:23, so another spirit leads Christians to just overlook their differences.

But Jesus prophesied that a visible witness of the kingdom will be raised up in the last days to be a light to the nations that puts the evidence of God’s love before all the nations — and then and only then will the end come. When this happens, it will be a Jesus movement that never ends, that will not be given to another people.3 When God raises up true messengers on the earth that are actually sent by Him, they will have the authority to call His sheep out of the divided camp of lifeless religion, just as Abraham, Moses, John the Baptist, and Jesus Himself did. This is the voice of the true Shepherd that has authority to save people from their sins and from this wicked and perverse society.4

This voice is the one that will give hope to old Jesus Freaks if they still have a nagging conscience about what the Jesus Movement has become. True sheep have nagging dissent in their heart – not rebellion, but dissent — because they really want to do God’s will. True sheep hear His voice and they never quite get high on the spirit that tells them division in the church doesn’t matter. They know they are lonely and that they really don’t have the radical life Jesus called His disciples to spend their lives establishing.5

  • 1. Mt 21:43; Heb 13:13
  • 2. Jn 12:26
  • 3. Dan 2:44
  • 4. Acts 2:37-42
  • 5. Mt 24:13-14

The Twelve Tribes is a confederation of twelve self-governing tribes, composed of self-governing communities. We are disciples of the Son of God whose name in Hebrew is Yahshua. We follow the pattern of the early church in Acts 2:44 and 4:32, truly believing everything that is written in the Old and New Covenants of the Bible, and sharing all things in common.

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