I just love it when a movie more than lives up to its hype. That is how I feel about Jesus Revolution. I had heard great things, but I wasn’t expecting the movie to be phenomenal and to leave me with such joy and peace that I would want to see it again. And that’s high praise from someone who much prefers serial programming to movies.
Based on the true story of Pastor Chuck Smith, hippie preacher Lonnie Frisbee, and an up-and-coming pastor named Greg Laurie, this movie walks viewers through the Jesus Revolution that began in California in the late 1960s, spread to several states, and lasted until the early 1970s.
Chuck Smith is the pastor of a small nondenominational church with a dwindling congregation. When he meets Lonnie Frisbee, played by The Chosen’s Jonathan Roumie, a spark is ignited. What follows is nothing short of miraculous.
Frisbee’s charismatic and joyful hippie ways are just what is needed to energize the congregation. But tensions mount when Lonnie brings in hordes of hippies, as the regular churchgoers see only unwashed and homeless drug addicts. They don’t look at who the hippies are as people, and they fail to see them as human beings.
However, their initial assumptions are wrong.
While many of these hippies had struggled with drug use or addiction, they found that the high they got or the psychedelic experience they encountered soon faded. And they found themselves still wanting, still searching for whatever it was they were searching for when they began using drugs. They soon came to realize that what they were searching for could not be found in a drug. What they were searching for could only be found in the love of Jesus, the saving grace of Our Lord, and the mercy only He can offer. As Lonnie said at one point, these people were searching and searching, but there was still a void.
As I watched the movie and saw all these young people search for this elusive “thing”—this thing that they couldn’t even name—I couldn’t help but see parallels in today’s world.
One look at the news, and you will see myriad stories of people—young and old—searching for something to fill that void of sadness, loneliness, anger, hatred, resentment, or unfulfillment. We see lost and isolated people suffering because they seem to have no idea who they are or what their purpose is in life.
They search and search, only to come up empty-handed.
Perhaps this is why we see so many confused and hopeless people today. Perhaps this is why so many young women jump on the “my body, my choice” bandwagon without taking the time to understand the sanctity of life. Perhaps this is why we see an increase in the number of young people confused about their gender.
They’re searching for something to fill the void they feel—a void brought upon by their disengagement from family and from society and by their immersion in social media.
Social media has become the new drug, and countless people are addicted.
Don’t get me wrong; the Internet can be a great thing. But anything done in excess can—and will—lead to brokenness. And we see evidence of that all around us.
If people don’t understand God’s love or the reason we were put on this earth, they go in search of that reason. We know that wandering can serendipitously lead us to that thing we were searching for, or it can lead us in the opposite direction. Sometimes, as with many of the young people in the movie, that searching leads us away from God before it leads us to Him.
As we read in 1 Peter, Satan is “prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour.” Just like the easiest fruit to pick is the low-hanging fruit, the easiest people to devour are the ones who are feeling low, who don’t know themselves, and who are lost. That is many young people today, and they are the ones preyed upon by forces of the culture of death. They are the ones vulnerable to social media trends, to “new” ideas, and to “alternative” thinking—all things that lead them away from the one who can give them everything they hope for and desire.
Though Jesus Revolution contains some theological errors, these errors should not detract from the overall message of the film—and that is how much we all need God in our lives and how much better our lives can be if we just let Him in.
But in order to let Him in, we first have to get to know Him, and once we establish that relationship, we cannot be afraid to share that love and to shine it to others. We cannot be afraid to put Him first in our lives.
At one point in the movie, Greg said to the young woman he hoped to take on a date: “If you ever get between me and God, we’re through.”
What courage! What an amazing example of the attitude we should all have.
Because we know that Satan prowls about the world hoping to destroy, we must be very careful when it comes to how we spend our time and who we spend it with. We cannot fill our days and lives with those who come between us and God, with those who try to keep us from loving Him, and with those who adamantly argue that He doesn’t exist without expecting a wedge to be driven between us and the one who died for us.
God must be our priority because only God can fill the void we all feel at times. Other things in life may promise to fill it, but these are empty promises. Other things may make us happy, but earthly happiness is fleeting and does not equal joy. True happiness lies in Christ. And it is only His love that will sustain us for eternity. Jesus Revolution demonstrates this beautifully.
This article first appeared in The Stream at stream.org/jesus-revolution-a-phenomenal-story-of-christs-love.