We Once Were Called Jesus Freaks

By William Kimball

I will be forever grateful for being saved during the Jesus Movement. We had nothing and we wanted nothing except Jesus.

We were as spiritually ignorant and deceived as they came. We had done it all,drugs, sex, rock & roll, protests, occult, astrology, witchcraft, New Age, eastern religions, TM, gurus, even health foods but nothing had filled the emptiness in our soul until we met Jesus. We didn't know the Epistles from the Apostles but we had a simplicity and innocence which believed that Jesus was the only answer. We were giddy with joy and like little children who were enthralled by the sheer wonder of what we had found. Simply put, it was a time when Jesus really was our first love.

I remember places like "The Revival Center", Morning Star Ranch", "Gospel Outreach", "Shiloh", "The Land", "The Hollywood Free Paper", "The Jesus Family Room" & the "Festival of The Son". It was a grassroots revival that sprung up out of nowhere and swept through a wayward generation of young people like a firestorm. With very rare exceptions it spontaneously exploded outside of church walls. It happened on the streets, while hitch-hiking, on campuses, in city parks, in communal settings, in simple house meetings like the early church, and even at the ground zero of hippiedom - "The Living Room" in Haight-Ashbury.

In reality, the established church had almost nothing to do with this sovereign move of God on a counter-culture that had, for all intents and purposes, been "written off" by them. In fact, the church was appalled by us. We were anti-establishment rebels - reprobates, long-haired freaks - drugged out and sex crazed - a lost generation beyond the hope of redemption. (Did anyone hear about the Grace of God?)

But I am grateful for one of the wackiest churches in the world - "The Sacramento Revival Center". In we came in all manner of dress & undress and I will always remember the timeless wisdom of the pastor whose first reaction was to quarantine & disinfect these unclean newcomers. His first thoughts were that we had no place being in church the way were (He was half right). But he confessed that God had metaphorically grabbed him by the throat and said "Don't touch them!" Oh what timeless truths are contained in that warning.

But, as the old commercial had declared, "You've come a long way, baby!"

As time passed we became spiritually housebroken and "churched". As we were absorbed into the church mainstream we quickly learned to conform and fit into this thing called "church life". We learned the lingo, the spiritual pecking orders, the correct way church life was done. We cut our hair, "cleaned up", bought fancy Bibles, three piece suits & "day-timers.". In short, we became religiously "correct". The children had finally learned to behave. Some were rigidly disciplined on how we should idolize past moves of God which had long ago become "dust in the wind." Some were manipulated by religious bullies or pressured to perform by legalistic pastors in order please God and prove our Christian commitment. Because of unquestioned obedience and the unspoken threat of censorship, we often bought into systems and self-serving agendas which often had little to do with God's will or His original designs for our generation. Sadly, we became legalized, systemized and cloned into a Church lifestyle that bore little resemblance to our spiritual roots.

What had once come naturally and effortlessly in our new found faith deteriorated into a barren round of duties, methodologies, spiritual steps, "how too's", quotas, formulas for victory, church programs, ideology, and clever strategies for church growth. The once "living organism" became just another structured organization. We had come full-circle. Now we were the "establishment." We had become what we once had despised.

Some of us ended up in some pretty tough, old wine skins over the years. But we are now on the threshold of a new season when many are waking up to a fresh call to return to our simplicity in Christ. The "new Wine" is beginning to tear at the seams. Many of us have gone through a long period of reappraisal and questioning and have slowly learned the lessons from the journey we have take since those days when we were simply called the "Jesus Freaks." We yearn for a lost innocence, for authenticity for our "First Love" to be restored.

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