When I was a teenager, and into my 20’s, there was a spiritual re-awakening called the “Jesus Movement.”
It was a movement toward Christianity that began in the United States in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. (Yes, I know – I’m dating myself here…)
It began as an outgrowth of the hippie counterculture that was so popular at that time. Staunch, strict, staid Protestantism was invaded by those who adopted a looser, more inclusive Christianity. Members of the movement were called “Jesus people” or “Jesus freaks.”
“Jesus freak” was a derogatory term, used to dismiss these people in a negative way. It was often said in a sneering manner – “Oh…you’re a JESUS FREAK.”
The movement focused on universal love and pacifism. You know, the whole “peace, love, and Jesus” kind of mentality. “Jesus freaks” relished and focused on the radical nature of Jesus’ message. They often carried and distributed copies of the “Good News for Modern Man,” a 1966 translation of the Bible that only included the New Testament in its first editions. This translation brought the Word of God to a younger generation, speaking in their language – it was a new departure from the traditional, more formal King James Version.
Now, let me clarify. I’m not condemning this movement. Some aspects of the Jesus movement were based on good values. Many people were reached and converted to a genuine saving faith in Jesus Christ. However, for some, it was nothing more than the “thing to do” – and their “faith” fell by the wayside.
I was reminded of the “Jesus Movement” when I read today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” from John 2:23-25:
“Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like.”
Does this sound harsh on Jesus’ part?
Why would He mistrust people who were putting their faith in Him?
The Amplified Bible adds a shade of meaning that I think clarifies things.
“…many believed in His name [identified themselves with His party]…”
It was this new “movement” that they were putting their belief in – not in Jesus’ “message" - not in Jesus HIMSELF.
At one point in time, my church’s high school group was overflowing with people. The most popular kids in town were there, the nerds were there...
(FYI – I was in the nerd crowd…) – everyone was there. It was the cool, socially correct thing to do.
Were there some genuine conversions? Absolutely.
Just as many of the people who followed Jesus genuinely believed in Him. But some had a superficial faith. They were there because it was the “thing to do.”
And Jesus knew, because He was discerning.
He knows the human heart.
Some of the same people proclaiming their belief in Him at this time would later yell, “Crucify Him!”
It’s easy to “believe” when it’s exciting and everyone else believes the same way. I think that’s exactly what happened with the “Jesus Movement.” It was a bandwagon that many jumped on. But when the ride got a little bumpy – when faith required right living, when faith required unpopular decisions, when faith required persecution and suffering – WHOA! Stop the bus – I’m getting off!
I wonder if He reflected on this passage – Jeremiah 17:9-10
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives.”
Or maybe this one – 1 Samuel 16:7
“The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
I will not set myself up as the judge of another person’s heart. I will not presume to know the state or validity of their faith. NO WAY! I’m too busy attending to my own heart, my own faith journey. And even then, I’m not always to be trusted with self-judgment! I’m with Paul on this:
“It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.” (1 Corinthians 4:3)
But the question I leave you with is this.
Is your faith for real?
Will you keep your faith firm even when it ISN’T popular to follow Jesus?
Oh Lord, thank you for the assurance of salvation. Thank you for the gift of faith. Keep me from judging others. Keep me from judging myself – do not let me be deceived. Give me a right spirit, Lord. A spirit of truth and discernment. Let me seek You wholeheartedly and honestly. You alone know my heart. Convict me where I need correction. Convince me where I need assurance. Give me the desire and the power to follow You – with all of my heart, my soul, my strength, and my mind.
Yeah…I guess I am a “Jesus freak!”
“When in doubt, search God out!”