We write to you because we have a present hope for the future, not a nostalgic retrospective of the past. Back in the ’60s, a whole generation of young people believed that we could “change the world” by focusing our lives on love, not hate; peace, not war; sharing rather than greed. What was it that gave vision to the Woodstock Nation, that inspired people with a spirit worth devoting their lives to? Was it real? Where did it go? Is it still there in you? We want to see if there is anything left in the soul of this Woodstock generation that still longs for peace on earth and justice for all mankind. Or has this generation become too upwardly mobile, too comfortable, too cynical for such outdated dreams?
Men have thought about love and justice for thousands of years, but have never been able to achieve it. Intellectuals have built vast philosophical theories about justice in the ivory towers of academia and serious social activists have gone to the streets demonstrating for justice. Many idealists have committed their lives to “changing the system” from within, but actually practicing justice in a life together as a people or nation has always remained an elusive dream — utopia.
Instead, human history has been a mournful, endless, and winding tale of woe and hardships, murders and border clashes, lies and schemes, the rich oppressing the poor. It’s painful to think about it. It was just as painful twenty-five years ago when the Movement was in full swing, but we told ourselves we were going to make a difference.
So now, several decades later, just what has changed? The problems seem to be the same, or even worse, and the result is that a whole generation of once-hopeful, enlightened, idealistic and beautiful people are now the greatest of cynics, almost completely distrustful and fiercely independent.
Granted, there’s a lot to be cynical about. Christianity, for example, after two thousand years of directing the course of Western Civilization, has failed to bring about universal love and justice. Instead, it has been the prime instrument of oppression for countless millions. Yet, in the beginning, it held a bright promise which could have changed human history once and for all.
In first-century Jerusalem, the “citadel of peace,” the first corporate human experience of love and justice in perhaps thousands of years, began. It began when Love descended to earth, living and expressing itself in the body of the man Yahshua, the Son of God. What He proclaimed and what He demonstrated to the world was a kingdom of love and justice, showing us what it is like for a human being to care more about the needs of others than about himself. He introduced this life as a whole new social order to be lived out by a people, the new nation of Israel. This life of justice went far beyond caring for others the way you want others to care for you. In fact, its demands were so challenging that it was violently rejected by the majority of his fellow men, and He was murdered in a cruel and unjust manner. The world makes much of His death and resurrection, but they hardly acknowledge the radical outcome of it all. His Spirit, the Spirit of Love, came like a roaring, mighty wind and rested on a small band of His followers, those who hungered and thirsted after true justice.
What resulted was a whole new society, just like our Master had talked about. It was made up of literally thousands of men, women and children living in peace, with no needy among them. His Spirit enabled them to love each other in the same way He loved them, giving up their own time, interests and possessions to meet the needs of others every day. Justice was the result. It began in a rush of enthusiasm that lasted almost to the end of the first century — before it began to disintegrate into the humdrum doctrines and impersonal self-righteousness of present-day Christendom.
What happened? Why did this mighty and powerful demonstration of justice lose its strength? It waned because Love left that community. The people began reverting back to the self-seeking lives they had left behind and lost the life they had experienced together.
Selfishness grieved Love and insulted Love and drove Love away. For nearly two thousand years Love has been seeking a new community to live in, a body of people who could be Yahshua’s own, a nation expressing His character of love and justice to the ends of the earth.
So now Yahshua’s Spirit is gathering together men and women from the four corners of the earth, giving them that same life together so that once again love and justice can be demonstrated for the whole world to see. Once again Love lives in a corporate body on the earth. He has found a new and lasting home. This new home is where He brought us. You’ve got to meet Him. Then you’ll understand. It’s really happening. Love is all you need. Love is really all you need.
But it is true love we are talking about, not just an emotional high or an infatuation. In the aftermath of the ’60s, tremendous devastation came to the soul of an entire generation that sought love with reckless abandon. Jumping headlong into a lifestyle of unbridled freedom is what did it. Little did we know that while we were enjoying the sight, smell, taste and touch of the meadows of love, there was a snake in the grass. Evil did exist after all and love cost something.
Coming through middle age still largely searching and unsatisfied, consider the residue of the Woodstock generation: 80% divorce rate, unpaid child support orders, teen suicide, single parents in untold numbers, AIDS, the feminist and gay rights’ movements splintered with internal divisions ... and the list goes on ... and on ... Loneliness and alienation persists. Mistrust and fear abound in personal relationships. Drugs couldn’t fix anything, but only caused the void to become deeper, leaving irreparable scars in countless numbers of people, many of today’s parents.
Where can we turn? Where can we lead our children? The Woodstock generation is left greying, still looking for spiritual roots and foundations to stand on. Many still haven’t settled; they haven’t landed because they haven’t found home. For those of you who are still looking for God and don’t know where to find him, we’re here to tell you: He is real; He’s more than a myth and we’ve found His life on earth.
The children of the ‘60s wanted the love they sensed was possible and the justice they saw was clearly needed, but didn’t know what it would cost to heal the terminal disease in human nature. The only cure is love, but the love of the sexual revolution failed to heal us because it didn’t cost anything. That’s why it didn’t satisfy the longing of our aching souls. True love, the love we were created for, means giving up your life for others, but how can a self-occupied, self-oriented soul possibly love like that? The answer is, it can’t.
The only solution, then, is dying to your old life and getting a new inside — a new heart. Only then can we get on with demonstrating love and justice. The environment for this life is, of course, actual community, like in Jerusalem in the first century, when the very first church established by our Master Yahshua began.
This is the Elusive Dream that we didn’t find in the ’60s. Regrettably, the last twenty-five years have seen us pursue the dream in a much less dramatic way — traveling down the road of self-help, the quest to perfect human nature by self-analysis and self-improvement, or perhaps by single-minded devotion to a worthy cause, or even finding a way to justify pure unadulterated personal success. Pride keeps a person from admitting how he is inside. The deeper and more personal the defect in your soul, the more fierce the reaction to defend or deny it. Without Yahshua the only recourse is to get hard, get dull or to escape. That is why scripture advises, “Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”1 Instead surrender to him, to his people. His love will not ever fail you.2 It begins by trusting Yahshua’s love for you enough to admit all the hurt and pain, sorrow and inadequacy that is within you. Nothing short of acknowledging this truth and living daily in forgiveness can constitute a true movement toward love and bring about what we longed for at Woodstock in 1969 ... and ever since.