A few years ago, my friend Greg Laurie (senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship), along with Ellen Vaughn, wrote a book called Jesus Revolution: How God Transformed an Unlikely Generation and How He Can Do It Again Today. Rarely have I read a book so entertaining, informative, and spiritually significant. I relived many formative historical events of the 60s and 70s—Jesus transformed my life when I was an unchurched fifteen year old about to start my sophomore year of high school.
Now the book has become the basis for a new movie by the same title. Many people have told me they have seen Jesus Revolution and were very moved by it. Greg shared a preview of the movie with me a while back, and I really appreciated it. I believe there are people whose eyes will be opened to Jesus through Jesus Revolution. (Find out where and when it’s playing on their website.)
Through reading the book and watching the movie, I learned new things about the Jesus Movement, which I believe was a powerful—though of course imperfect—movement of the Holy Spirit. In fact, many of us older people you know likely came to Jesus either in the center of or on the fringes of that Jesus Revolution. It makes me long for and pray for a New Jesus Revolution that would sweep over many people in our culture and in the world, people both young and old.
Here’s the movie trailer:
Over the years Greg Laurie has become a dear friend. He first contacted me after his son Christopher tragically died in 2008. Since then, he has invited me to speak several times at the churches in Riverside and Orange. Once when we were both speaking in Maui, we met up and had a glorious time together with his Cathe and my Nanci.
Greg has a great passion for evangelism and is also a student of the Scriptures whose ministry is Christ-centered. Since Christopher’s death, their suffering as a family has been great, and Nanci and I have seen in them a depth and dependence on Christ. Harvest felt like a second home for us, and we were glad any time we were able to visit.
Greg and I were recently texting about the movie’s effect on people. One of those people is actor Kelsey Grammer, who plays Pastor Chuck Smith. This interview with him is touching:
Also see this article in which Kelsey talks about his faith in Jesus. And on his blog, Greg talks about what was fact and what events of the film were condensed, altered, or rearranged for sake of storytelling.
One of the things that I most loved about the movie is not simply the transformation that happened in Greg Laurie, and the many young people who came to faith in Christ. It was also the transformation of Pastor Chuck Smith, played by Kelsey Grammer. That transformation was not from unbelief to belief, but from lack of love for those in the youth culture to heartfelt love for them. Chuck went from being a man full of truth to a man full of grace and truth. Jesus is full of both, and when we are, that will make all the difference in our churches. Not grace only and not truth only, but full of grace and truth. If young seekers can see in older Christians that the answers are not in how we talk and how we dress and in our politics, but in Jesus, it will make a radical difference in the church, and demonstrate our oneness and love in Jesus.
Some have and will criticize the movie because it does not tell the whole story about Lonnie Frisbee later backsliding and falling away from the faith and pursuing a life of drugs and immorality. However, Greg Laurie has said clearly that the movie showed Frisbee in a year and a half period where that was who he really was. Later his marriage dissolved, and the precursors to that were clear in the movie, and his spiritual life fell apart. Near the end of his life, he did repent and expressed that repentance to Greg and others. But even if he had not repented, the story would be true without having to revise it because things went bad for Lonnie later. See what Greg wrote in “The Long Strange Trip of Lonnie Frisbee.”
I loved the movie, and pray God would do such radical works of grace in our midst. Our culture is characterized by increasing depression and anxiety, particularly among the young. People today seem to be particularly thirsty for happiness. In the midst of such hopelessness, God offers the truly good news of His transforming grace, mercy, love, and eternal happiness: “Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wants it take the water of life free of charge” (Revelation 22:17, NET).
The world Jesus entered desperately needed a Redeemer from sin and unhappiness. That is true today too. He came to Earth to deliver us from eternal sin and misery, and everyone we meet has exactly the same need—to know and follow Jesus Christ. May we daily ask the Lord to give us opportunities to share His “good news of great joy” (Luke 2:10). Let’s prayerfully share that Good News, and trust God to be at work in powerful ways in our world now.