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Jesus Revolution tells the story of the impact of the Jesus Movement of the 1970s

This image released by Lionsgate shows Jonathan Roumie in a scene from "Jesus Revolution." Dan Anderson/Lionsgate via Associated Press

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Friday, February 24th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.

Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: Christianity at the movies.

This weekend, a new movie set during the Jesus Movement of the 1970s hits theaters, and here’s Collin Garbarino to tell us all about it.

MUSIC: [“Righteous Rocker #1” by Larry Norman]

COLLIN GARBARINO: Faith-based movies have a reputation for, well, not being very good. But Jesus Revolution is the real deal.

Kelsey Grammer plays Pastor Chuck Smith. He leads a dwindling congregation in Southern California, and like many in his generation he doesn’t understand the hippie youth culture that’s sweeping the nation.

But things start to change for Pastor Chuck when he meets charismatic hippie preacher Lonnie Frisbee played by Jonathan Roumie—who’s best known for his portrayal of Jesus on The Chosen.

CHUCK: So, uh, tell me about yourself, Lonnie, and your, uh, people.

LONNIE: My people. I like the sound of that. You know it reminds me of the words of Jesus: “To what then can I compare the people of this generation?” What are they like?

Lonnie explains that the hippies are looking for something solid. They’re looking for the truth.

LONNIE: But that was the point. You see, the drugs—it’s a quest.

CHUCK: For what?

LONNIE: For God. How can you not see that? There is an entire generation right now searching for God.

The drugs are a lie. LSD offered no more truth than the materialism the hippies rebelled against. Pastor Chuck realizes these young people are a bunch of lost sheep, and when he opens his home and his church, his world gets turned upside down.

CHUCK: Excuse me, who are you?

LONNIE: Hi, Chuck. That’s Ron. This is Micky. That’s Lynette at the table. New brothers and sisters—hope it’s OK they stay here too.

DAUGHTER: Isn’t it great, Dad?

CHUCK: No, it’s not. Are they camping in my yard?

LONNIE: Oh, yeah, don’t worry about them. They’re used to it. They don’t mind. Wait till you see who’s in here.

But not everyone at Calvary Chapel was ready to embrace the new members, forcing Pastor Chuck to make some hard choices.

CHUCK: Now that door is open all the time. Any time of day. And if there are some who don’t like that, well, then that door is open for you too. Works both ways.

But this movie isn’t merely about Chuck Smith, Lonnie Frisbee, and Calvary Chapel. It’s also the love story of Greg and Cathe Laurie.

CASSIE: Hey, square.

GREG: I am not a square.

CASSIE: Sorry, sorry. You dress like one.

Greg would eventually grow up to pastor the megachurch Harvest Christian Fellowship, but in those early days Greg and Cassie were just a couple of high schoolers looking for truth in the midst of family difficulties.

CASSIE: See, I would rather expand my mind.

GREG: Give me a break. You’re in high school. All they teach is propaganda and lies.

CASSIE: OK. What if… What if there is no truth? What if it’s all just different points of view?

Jesus Revolution is rated PG-13 because it contains scenes involving teenage drug use, but honestly, I thought Jesus Revolution was a fantastic movie. And I hope we see more Christian movies like it.

The movie might be set in the 1970s, but it’s speaking directly to us. America was divided back then, and we might be even more divided today. Young people pursued lies in a drug-fueled sexual revolution because of life’s emptiness. Many contemporary youth think they’ve found truth in a new revolution of sex and gender.

But this film reminds us Truth with a capital T can only be found in Jesus. And when we’ve found Jesus. We’re home.

CHUCK: This place… It is yours. I don’t care if anybody else thinks so… If you feel like you’re an outcast, then join us here. If you feel like you’re misunderstood and judged, this is where you belong. If you feel ashamed or trapped in something you’ve done or are doing, you will find forgiveness and freedom right here. No guilt trips. This is your home.

What I appreciate the most about Jesus Revolution is its honesty.

Yes, there’s a “come as you are” message, but the movie doesn’t shy away from repentance of sin and the need for a changed life. It also doesn’t shy away from the messiness that surrounded the Jesus Movement. We don’t see all Frisbee’s personal problems. But we do see the movement struggling with big egos and fighting over its theological direction.

You don’t have to come from a particular Christian tradition to enjoy this story about sinners and God’s grace.

Jesus Revolution says we shouldn’t be so arrogant as to think God can’t work through our failures, and it asks us to remember that even though 50 years have passed, God’s Spirit is still blowing.

MUSIC: [“Righteous Rocker #1” by Larry Norman] Without love, you ain’t nothing without love.

I’m Collin Garbarino.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


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