Represent and re-present: A dear friend and brother in the Lord reminded me of our purpose and calling in life.
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)
We are reflections of God’s mercy and love, not the source. What we have to offer is what God has given us. We represent God, like ambassadors. But the main job at hand is to share Christ with a fallen world. Some call it witnessing.
Jesus movement in the 1960s
In the late 1960s, during the height of the “Hippie” movement in California, came a new quest for enlightenment by young people. Call it a search for truth and meaning, but there was no meaning, and as for truth, it was a hollow pursuit of a lie.
I remember Dr. Timothy Leary, whose promotion of using LSD and other psychedelic drugs was an attempt to free the mind and expand understanding. About the only thing they accomplished were bad trips and overdoses.
However, some turned to something better, more meaningful and true. It wasn’t, however, something new. It was very old. In that search for truth, they discovered the way, the truth and the life. They met the Lord Jesus Christ. And thus, the Jesus Movement began.
Instead of drugs they choose Jesus
Instead of getting high on drugs, young people embraced the eternal truth of the Gospel. The Biblical account of Jesus is a continuation of the narrative told from Genesis to Malachi.
All of the Bible is relevant and vital to the Jesus ministry. Instead of “tripping,” young people were immersing themselves in God’s truth. For some it was a fad, just another thing to do. But for so many, it was life changing.
Some churches embraced the Jesus movement
The Christian community, especially evangelicals, were not impressed and did not like the “hippies” invading their churches. The late pastor Stuart Briscoe, came over from England to take the lead at Elmbrook Church, just outside of Milwaukee.
Early in his tenure, Briscoe asked his church leaders, “Where are the young people?” He was told that the young people and their long hair and tie-dyed shirts were a distraction.
Briscoe told them that if the young people were not allowed to attend, he did not want the job at Elmbrook. Once known as Brookfield Baptist Church, Elmbrook was looking to grow and went from a rather small congregation to over 6000 members.
Since the beginning of time there has been a gap, sometimes a large one, between youth and older adults. Parents don’t always understand their kids. “I don’t know how to talk to them,” is a familiar lament.
Church people liked their little congregations, so any kind of an invasion of kids was threatening. They looked on the young as a liability, not an absolute necessity for expanding the Kingdom of God.
The only way to bridge gap is to be loving and truthful. Jesus is the bridge. The message is over 2000 years old, but it has not changed. Yes it’s old, but it is as exciting and as vibrant as it was the day eager ears heard it for the first time.
Christians need to reach out to all
Christians have to adapt. It’s one thing to represent Christ, but it is important to RE-present Christ in a way people can understand and identify with. The early disciples thought the faith was just for Jews, but God intended His Son to be Messiah for the entire world.
All the different nationalities, races, cultures crash into competing religions. Some believe you need to modify the content of a religion to make it easy for people to follow. But Jesus never changed. He is the same today as He was yesterday and will be tomorrow. Without changing one word of God’s truth,to represent Jesus you have to RE-present Him.
Calvary Chapel were able to reach a new generation for Jesus
The strategy is not at all new. Jesus spoke in parables, because they were effective in presenting an important message in terms people could understand. Movements such as Calvary Chapel in Southern California, turned the Christian community on it’s ear by RE-presenting Jesus to a new generation.
They evangelized, disciple new believers, baptized new members of God’s family in a new way, without changing one word, one letter of the truth. The new movie, “Jesus Revolution”, tells the story of the great launch and all of the pitfalls along the way.
Let the Spirit lead
Followers of Jesus want to share the Gospel and help people accept Christ. They sometimes get carried away and it becomes about them, not the work of the Lord. God’s Holy Spirit is the one doing the work, so the follower of Christ is just along for the ride. To RE-present Jesus to a new audience, believers need to remember they represent Christ and carry on accordingly. Let the Spirit lead.