In the 1960’s and early 1970’s the nation was in crisis with the war in Vietnam, protests in the streets, civil rights marches, riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the birth of the drug culture, the sexual revolution and more.
In the midst of it, God gave us the Charismatic Renewal and the Jesus Movement, both of which I think we kind of screwed up before it was all over. Now we find ourselves in crisis again as a nation and we see flare-ups of revival here and there. As yet, however, it appears to be nothing like a unified surge across a broad base such as I remember from four and five decades ago. I pray that such a unified surge is coming.
Beginning in the 60’s, the Charismatic Renewal roared through mainline denominations, affecting an older generation hungry for God, drawing together Catholics, Protestants, Pentecostals and Independents in unprecedented ways. The Jesus Movement, for its part, was a generational thing, built upon the culture of the young, the music being created by them and their rejection of the conformity of the culture of the preceding generation.
But there were problems. The older generation couldn’t embrace the style of the young to receive them into the churches. Coming out of the crushing conformity of the 1950s and early ‘60s they wanted us to look like them, sound like them and worship like them. This contributed to a generational divide that flew in the face of Malachi 4:5-6, the hearts of the fathers restored to the children and the children to the fathers, and constituted a failure that ultimately diminished the impact of both movements. So much was tragically lost, even as new church affiliations developed to accommodate those who hungered for the more!
As time passed, the Charismatic Renewal went off into a focus on self that spawned a whole set of aberrant teachings and doctrines which ultimately caused wounding and disillusionment in many thousands of the Lord’s people. Many in the Jesus Movement were drawn into a kind of religious spirit while others were seduced away from a pure focus on Jesus and into the obsession with self our culture had created – the house, the car, the job and personal fulfillment at the expense of self-sacrifice for the kingdom and others. Disappointed and disgruntled, thousands eventually began to leave the church and adopt a much lesser level of faith and passion.
From their inception, those previous moves of the Spirit bore within them the seeds of their own demise that eventually caused them to fade and die. The winds of change, however, have begun to blow. In these current flare-ups of the Spirit we see the sparks of a new Jesus Movement. In my heart I know what we need in order to see it fully blossom and to sustain it when it does. This time the generations must stand as one, even in their differences of style and expression. This time we must stay grounded in the Father’s heart, devotion to Jesus, freedom in the Spirit and grounding in His Word.
I pray that this time we don’t mess it up before it can really take root and grow. God grant us in this fresh move of Your Spirit a simplified focus on You and a purity of heart! Ground us in Your Word without falling to a religious mindset. Let us walk in a new and deeper understanding of Your heart and love. Let us be the light of the world in a darkening time!