The movement’s catalyst was a young man named Lonnie Frisbee who found Jesus (or more specifically Jesus found him) while on a drug-induced hike with his friends in the mountains outside Palm Springs, California. He baptized his friends who accompanied him, walked down the mountain, and his life was never the same.
Nor was the church.
Eventually, Lonnie found his way down to Costa Mesa, California and met a young discouraged pastor named Chuck Smith who was considering leaving the ministry. But Lonnie spoke at the tiny church, the Holy Spirit moved in a powerful way, and the Jesus Movement picked up steam.
If you’re weren’t cognizant of the movement back in the early 1970s, you missed out on something amazing. As a child, I remember long-haired hippies with their girlfriends in halter-tops walk into the back of my church and exclaim, “I was driving by your church when I saw something that looked like flames coming up from your roof. I pulled my car over so I could come inside and see what was going on.” Those men and women gave their hearts to Jesus and today, some are pastors, some are actively involved in the church, and some have, unfortunately, been lulled to sleep.
What needs to happen to see God move like that again? And what needs to happen for God to move in us like that again?
Please join us as we explore this topic in our daily Bible conversation.
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Amos 1:1-3:15. Amos was the unlikeliest of prophets because he was a shepherd, from a backwater town only 6 miles from Bethlehem. While most shepherds received little if any education, Amos displays a surprising command of the Hebrew language, history, and the world around him. Although he lived in Judah, God sent him to prophecy against the northern kingdom of Israel around 750 BC. Both kingdoms were enjoying great prosperity, often on the shoulders of the peasant class. Through Amos, God addressed this problem.
To the delight of his listeners, Amos begins by pronouncing judgment on Israel’s enemies. He starts with Damascus, followed by Gaza and Tyre. Then he focuses on their cousins Edom and Moab and then their better-behaved sister Judah. Undoubtedly, his listeners realize that he will inevitably set his sights on them.
Revelation 2:1-17. In the early chapters of Revelation, Jesus criticizes the Nicolaitans, a “Christian” sect that merged pagan worship practices (including ritual temple prostitution) with Christianity in the attempt to avoid religious persecution. According to early church fathers Irenaeus, Clement and Tertullian, the group eventually hardened into a Gnostic sect.
Notice what Jesus says to the church in Smyrna: You’re about to suffer, but that’s okay.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
The church in Ephesus was, at the end of the first century AD, the most influential church in the world. They had experienced a Jesus movement of sorts—people had given their hearts to Christ, miracles had taken place, lives changed. Paul and Timothy had pastored there, and then the apostle John made his home there as well.
But over time, the all-consuming fire that had burned deeply in the hearts of its people died down to a flickering flame.
Do you ever feel like that? Your past enthusiasm for Jesus has turned into meaningless ritual? Somehow, you’ve been lulled to sleep? In my experience, this isn’t a one-time occurrence—it’s an ongoing battle we fight throughout our lives.
It’s so easy to stray from the very thing—the very person—that brings us life. In the midst of raising families, paying our bills, and volunteering at church, we slowly drift away from what’s important.
In Revelation 2, Jesus gave the church in Ephesus instructions for stoking the fire, which also applies to you and me. He began by affirming the Ephesians, acknowledging their hard work and perseverance.
Then he told them, “You have forsaken your first love.” First love of who? Jesus. This probably wasn’t a surprise to the readers, but then they assuredly asked the question: “How do we return to our first love?”
Jesus gave them these three instructions (verse 5):
Remember. Think back to those earlier days when felt alive. What did you do? How did you act? How did you feel?
Repent. This means to go in an opposite direction. In whatever ways you strayed from the path, turn around and walk back. It also implies a change in our thoughts and attitudes.
Repeat. John writes, “do the things you did at first.” How did you act when you felt alive? Do them!
In recent posts, I’ve shared about some of the exciting things happening in our young church, especially in regard to our relationship with the high school where we meet. As I meditated on this passage earlier today, I realized that this resurgence is really a repeat of the way I lived earlier in my life–back in the day when I truly believed (and lived) as though Jesus was alive and well, and working through his people. Over time, though, I began to live safe and I built walls that protected me from the outside world. But Jesus’ three-stage process really did make a difference in my life.
And it will make a difference in your life, too.
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- Think back to the time in your life when you felt closest to God. How did it feel? How did you live?
- Wheat do you need to do to return to your first love?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.