I was a young teenager living in rural Oklahoma during the years of the Jesus Revolution. Very isolated and far removed from Haute Asbury, California. But I heard and saw what was reported, as we did have television. And from those televised images, I drew my conclusions about those young people.
I grew up in a non-churched family, but it did have a strict moral compass and the very traditional family values of that decade. So, to see their behavior, read the signs they held, and hear the phrases coming out of their mouths shocked me to my toes. I immediately tagged the entire lot of them as ‘bad immoral people’ – lock, stock and barrel.
Decades past and times changed, (not always for the better) and I hadn’t given much thought to that period of life in our country. Until I went to that movie. And I learned a lot.
I learned that by labeling and dismissing that whole group of young people as ‘bad,’ I missed what else eventually happened among them. I missed the fact that a small segment of those teens came to realize hippiedom wasn’t giving them any more peace and contentment than chasing popularity, politics, financial gain, or the legalistic church world had done. They already had tried all those things, and finally realized none of them helped, so that group of young folks turned to God to see if He could make a difference in their life. Evidently, He did.
The Jesus Movement then swept through California, turning around the lives of thousands of confused and hurting young people. Oh, they still had a very distinct and different way of dressing and talking from the norm of the average person around them, no doubt about it. Those things didn’t seem to change drastically. The real change was in their beliefs and their behavior. They no longer held to “Anything goes, if it makes you feel good.”
But I didn’t know about that separate group of kids back then – or now in 2023. I just assumed that any young people with weird clothing, long stringy hair, with guitars slung across their backs were part of the drugged, free love, hippy movement that was always made up of troubled kids. I had them flagged, bagged and tagged.
Folks, if there is anything that I would love to pass on to others from those ninety plus minutes of that movie, it is this:
Never, never, never assume that if a person doesn’t look, smell, talk or behave the way you do, that they are troubled and anti-God. You could get the surprise of your life when you get to know them.
There is a Southern Gospel song out right now, called “YOU LOVE, I’LL JUDGE.”
Pretty accurate thought.
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