Jesus Freak: A Shared Identity
I was 10 years old when I walked down the church aisle to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. But it wasn’t until the Jesus Movement that I learned to live out that relationship in community. For those of you unfamiliar with the Jesus Movement, it was the closes thing to a Spiritual Awakening I have ever experienced. People of all ages became interested in reading and learning from the Word of God. But most importantly, tens of thousands of young people came to faith in Jesus Christ. Large numbers of which were what our generation referred to as “hippies.”
Hippies, disenchanted with the both the drug and free-love culture of the 60’s, found their way to churches. With their long hair and dressed in bell-bottoms, they were fascinated with the counter-cultural teachings of Jesus on love, peace, and joy. By some estimates, more than a quarter million youth accepted Jesus as their Savior. The movement grew in the midst of national chaos (Vietnam protests, Racial turmoil and the Summer of Love), but it should remind all of us that God is always working to bring redemption, spiritual revival and re-awakening out of chaos, often through people you and I would least expect.
The Jesus Movement was organic as people “caught the vision” it quickly spread across the nation. I lived in a mid-sized community near Dallas, Texas at the time. The youth in my area were part of a countercultural Christian revolution united in a common cause to share the true Jesus to a world desperately in need of His love. We became known as Jesus Freaks.
Upon reflection and some 50 years later, what truly propelled us to take the message of God’s love to people of all walks of life and ultimately influence a generation? The easy answer: God’s Spirit impacted a whole generation and pointed us to Jesus. We shared a common faith and desire to see change: the poor cared for, men and women of color fully accepted into society and yes world peace. We were idealistic but so is our God.
There are key attributes that were true then and now that inform how we grow in our shared identity:
- Highly unstable environments encourage the emergence of shared identity
- A sense of urgency both draws us together and focuses our efforts
- Rallying around addressing human needs is at the heart of shared identity
- Shared identity allows us to be more proactively and autonomous
- Lastly, shared identity at its most basic level is propelled on the rails of trust
We have just begun to come out of a World pandemic, ethnic tension continues to express itself across our nation and with ominous tensions once more rising in the far east peace continues to be in question. What the Jesus Movement had at its core: Jesus. What propelled the movement of hundreds of thousands of teenagers was our shared identity. But ultimately, we had confidence and trust that things would be better in the future.
For a better future, one Jesus Freak to another.