I’m reading the daily journals of a young woman who helped found a Jesus commune, attended Explo ’72, played guitar, made puppets, planted a garden, and engaged in evangelism, prayer and counseling every chance she got. In 1972 she was 22 years old. I’m reading about a young man in this journal who had journeyed alongside this young woman and her husband since they were all teenagers. He too had studied to be a minister, he too had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and was playing coffeehouses and Jesus concerts with them. They’d loved him and been praying for him for a long time. But for him it just never took. Call him too liberal. Call him a sinner. Call him bad seed. In the end it all just didn’t hold a big interest. He met a girl and they hooked up and left. They parted as friends, but there’s pain there you know?
Maybe I think too much about it all, but I believe so strongly in evangelism and life in the work of the Holy Spirit to let God’s work be fit into the easy categories of glorious conversion or sinful backsliding. I like to think that God continued working on this young man even though he parted ways and lost touch with this young couple, who incidentally were to be my parents.
It’s hard for people today to understand how important and fresh the gospel was for the Jesus People of the late ’60s and early ’70s. The Bible seemed to jump off the pages for them. They saw their generation as ripe for a spiritual harvest. Maybe in some ways they were so enamored with their generation that they couldn’t see themselves as anything other than the final generation that would bring in the rapture. Even so, there’s no questioning their openness to God and their firm belief that He had not left them alone.