ACTS 28:25-28: “So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers, saying, ‘Go to this people and say: “Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; And seeing you will see, and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.” ’ “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!” NKJV
OBSERVATION: It was the Summer of 1967. Young people from all over the country flocked to San Francisco to proclaim a new way of living. The Beatles released their song, “Love is all you need.” And, I was 12 years old. Too young to participate, but not too young to observe.
Everything I saw on the news and heard on the radio resonated with me. Why can’t we just love one another? Why can’t we just drop out and tune in? I heard the disdain of the older generation as they watched these long haired hippies, with flowers in their hair, gather and proclaim this new way of life. Who was right?
There were a few more incarnations of this period that stand out in history. There was the Monterey Pop Festival of 1967, and the granddaddy of them all – Woodstock in 1969. By the time Woodstock came around I was a 15 year old teenager. As I began High School, it seemed that some tarnish had already begun to stain this unbridled call to love. My high school years were met with growing protests of the Vietnam War, racial unrest, and riots in the halls of our campus.
What happened to the call to love?
I became disillusioned with the hippie movement, the social protests, and the racial unrest. Like many my age, I began to simply bury myself in meaningless partying to take my mind off of all of this. Yet, I wrote poetry at that time that showed a soul that was twisted in turmoil. One such poem I performed in speech competitions. I would never win because I would get a high score with one judge and the lowest score from another. One of the verses of this poem went like this.
I’ve seen black and I’ve seen white
A couple of nice colors, why do they fight
Like a black and white storm thundering at night
I spoke up for bussing before a filled to capacity Pomona School Board Meeting. I felt something had to be done to address the social and racial unrest. At that point I felt it was integration through bussing. What happened? Our family received hate mail and threatening calls. This only led to my further disillusionment. So I buried myself in my job and in my cars. However, neither of these brought any lasting satisfaction or peace.
I grew up in a Christian home and went to church every Sunday. I would try to read the Bible, hoping that I would find some hope. Yet, whenever I picked it up, I could not understand a word I read. The church had disappointed me too. After service on Sunday I would hear the adults whispering and gossiping. I thought – “If this is Christianity I don’t want any part of it!”
Next I tried finding meaning in getting involved in school. I ran for Student Body President. My campaign was a very serious one. I shared the current issues we were all facing and outlined ways I would like to address them. I lost the election. Then I ran for Senior Class President. I gave a silly speech about Senior Power and left all the serious stuff out. I won the election. Even though I really tried to do some good as Senior Class President, the whole process only left me disappointed. It did not fill the growing unrest in my life.
When I graduated from High School at the age of 17, I moved out of my house immediately. A good friend and I got a two bedroom apartment in Fullerton, California. Now I would find what I was looking for! Independent, a good job, and a fast car, I was ready to find true meaning in life. Yet, most of my nights were spent alone. What was supposed to be party central had turned into further isolation and disappointment.
Then, there was a girl that I really liked. I thought, if only I could date her my life would be fulfilled! She worked with me at the local supermarket. She was a year older than me and she was a Christian. I was a Christian too, but not like her. She went to church several times a week. I knew that the only way I could have a chance with her was to go to church. So I did. I wandered into the church she attended which was located in Walnut, California. I was not prepared for what I saw.
Like the Jewish people that Paul was speaking to in Rome, I had grown up in church. I went to a parochial school, we had a chapel service every Wednesday, and I went through confirmation at the age of 13. Yet, hearing I did not hear, and seeing I did not see. The Bible was still a mystery to me. My faith was something I believed in but did not practice or feel. I was a good moral person on the outside, but inwardly I was lost and bound with sin.
I will never forget my first visit to this church. I wandered in and sat down on the back pew. I was looking for the girl I worked with but I soon forgot about her. What was happening all around me replaced my search for her. I could not believe what was happening. People were singing, smiling, lifting their hands, and embracing one another. What was going on? It was too much for me. I quickly slipped out of the church and headed for my car.
Driving home I wrestled with what I had heard and seen. My heart beat rapidly and I was confused. Something in me wanted to run and something in me wanted to stay. As I wrestled with these feelings over the next week – they led me right back to the same church and the same back pew. This time I stayed for the entire service. It was then that I began to understand the words of Isaiah that Paul quoted in the 28th chapter of Acts.
- “Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.”
What the Summer of Love could not accomplish, what the hippie movement could not attain, what social interaction and involvement could not produce, was found in a moment. It was not found in an organization, or even a church. It was found when I met someone for the first time in a personal way. It was found when I met Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and Lord.
These young people in their long hair, shabby jeans, and flip flops, were the real deal. They did not need drugs to heighten their experience. They did not need protests to give them identity and purpose. They gathered several times a week to do only a few simple things. They gathered to worship Jesus, to read and study His Word, and to pray for one another and the world. Lives were rescued. Relationships were restored. Bodies were healed. Purpose was restored.
The Bible that I could not understand became alive to me. The words that I once could not understand instantly became my source of life and strength. I began to tell everyone I could about Jesus and the power of His Word. Finally, my life had peace and purpose. The emptiness was filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit. And, I realized that everyone, including myself, was a sinner in need of a Savior. This helped me remove the stumbling blocks in my life. I no longer used the cry of hypocrisy as an excuse to avoid church. I committed my life to being a part of the church and fulfilling the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.
Today, we find ourselves in a very similar cultural vacuum as I did back in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Instead of looking to love to solve all of our issues, we are now looking to science to be our savior. Yet, this search will prove to be as hollow as the lasting impact of the Summer of Love. What the world needs now is not more love or more science.
What the world needs now, what I need now, is Jesus!
Man does not change. He simply alters his outward appearance and activities. The inward cry of man remains the same. It is a cry for purpose, peace, and understanding. It is a cry to fulfill the deep inner need for the one thing that was lost when Adam and Eve sinned – eternity! And, there is only one answer to this cry.
The answer is Jesus!
- “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16-17 NKJV
We can hear His call to believe and simply walk away. Seeing, we can remain blind. Hearing, we can remain deaf. Or, we can turn to Jesus, embrace Him as our Savior and Lord, and be healed.
Take the advice of an old Jesus Freak – BELIEVE IN JESUS!
In Jesus Name!