Saturday, March 17, 2007

By Our Love

You know the truth is, sometimes we depend too much on technology. I found that out this week when my computer went down for a couple of days. I am so far behind it is unreal. Well, time to catch up.

I appreciated all of the comments and feedback on the blog on Integrity on the Hollywood Jesus and MySpace site. There was a response that caused me to want to reflect on The Jesus Movement of the 1970’s.

The response to the blog on Integrity came by Paul on MySpace, and he said:

“Mike, Thanx for your honesty and integrity in raising this issue. It's not always comfortable to have the spotlight turned in and showing up those darkened corners but it is so neccesary. Integrity is essential to a christlike character, which God wants see in us. But look at us! I've worked in churches for almost 15 years and I've been hurt more there than anywhere else (often by the back stabbing, smiling assasins, who say one thing to your face and hammer the nails in behind your back). We used to sing 'they will know we are christians by our love' but the healer of the wounded often has become the wounder of the healers. I don't want this to become a rant against the church (which I love). But in my culture it seems we're missing something BIG! Concerned more about our reputation than our character. But it seems to me that Jesus puts more emphasis on the stuff that really matters - the stuff of life, often those seemingly little things, like keeping your word, doing what you say, honesty and authenticity. Because those things speak loud! Would that they would scream from my life.”

There are a couple of things in that comment that hit home for me. They were, “We used to sing ‘they will know we are Christians by our love” and “but the healer of the wounded often has become the wounder of the healers.”

I miss the old days of the Jesus Movement. I came to know Jesus in the middle of the whole thing in the 1970’s. I was looking for love and knew I couldn’t find it in the drugs, sex, gangs and life I had been living and practicing. I heard a man, David Wilkerson speak for the first time about the person of Jesus and the example he established and lived. Call me naive but I decided to give it a try, and now almost 30 years later, I have never been let down by the person of Jesus.

There was something special in those days; I believe an attitude where those of us who were young were rebelling against the system. We had seen many of our friends come back from Vietnam not the same as they had been before they left. We lived through the civil rights movement; we saw the hypocrisy of many within the church on various issues like equality. For many of us, those things begin to get addressed in the person of Jesus and many of us with long hair, and anti establishment opinions came to Jesus just as we were, without one plea, without one concern, we wanted Jesus and what he had to offer.

In those early days there were a lot of songs that came out, songs like, “They’ll Know We are Christians by Our Love.” Then there were musical artists who had gone through the same things we had. None had more of an impact on me than Larry Norman, but there were others like Love Song, The Second Chapter of Acts, Honeytree, and the list could go on and on.

In the early days of my salvation, I begin following what was called “Contemporary Christian Music” or CCM for short. I even begin promoting concerts. Later on I begin working for one of my favorite bands of all time, The Rob Cassels Band, later known as Rob Castles. To this day, I have never met a more sincere, loving, caring individual. Rob with his long flowing black hair didn’t care what people thought of him, he just wanted to sing and tell people about Jesus, while at the same time providing quality top notch music.

While with Rob I became involved in a ministry called The Fellowship of Contemporary Christian Ministries, FCCM for short. It was a thriving organization of early Jesus Music pioneers that later became The Network for Creative Outreach. I remember those early days with people like Twila Paris, Keith Green, Resurrection Band, Glad, Petra, The Pat Terry Group, and many others. I remember one of the issues that came up with heated discussion at one of our gatherings was the concept of, were we as artists involved in this thing as a ministry or a business? That debate ended up losing out to the concept of business and just as many of us who were involved in the early days of Christian music sold out to the business, I can’t help but wonder if we as individual Christians, and as members of the church have sold out to the same concept.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with making a buck, bottom line is, and I know this all too well, we have to pay the bills. But when the driving force is in paying the bills, as opposed to having a purpose in doing what we do, I have to wonder where the value in life is? Has the focus turned towards materialistic things, as opposed to a living and loving God? If so, no wonder that issues like integrity, weak witness, and so forth dominate our lives.

Yea, I’ll never forget those early days, seeing Resurrection Band just playing a concert in the parking lot of a shopping center. Then there was the Pat Terry Group who would show up and take the time to talk to the kids in the crowd. Or here is a shocker, for those that didn’t know, you could hardly buy a Keith Green record before he was killed in the plane crash. You wanted a record and didn’t have money for it, he would give it to you.

My how the times have changed, the business end has won out, well sort of. I have noticed a lot this week Bono of U2 in the news. Working to bring about justice and right to the world we live in. It is strange; this man of integrity seems to have the respect of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, George Bush, Michael Moore, Al Franken and Bill Clinton. He is if you will a sort of Billy Graham of our day. A man who walks in integrity and thus garnishing an amount of respect from people in all walks of life. While there are those in the church who are critical, they always are, the reality is, he is standing firm on his faith, and in the process doing something that he believes to be right. I will challenge that he will go down in history, known more for his humanitarian impact than he will his musical impact. In fact we will see where the impact from the two worlds has been blended together, one of vocation and one of action.

I happen to think Bono has much in common with the early days of Jesus music. A person, who has talent, loves what they do, and then finds a way to give back to the world he lives in. Yea, those early days of Keith Green live on in people like Bono. These are lessons we can learn from. Then when we sing “They’ll Know We are Christians by Our Love,” people watching will be able to observe our actions and say, “Yea, that must be what a real Christian is.” We all have that ability, we all have that opportunity, the question becomes, do we stay focused on the business at hand or the service we all have the opportunity to provide those around us? The hands of service rooted and grounded in of all things, not money, not things, but love.

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