Jesus Revolution is a Revival in Film

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I’ve been looking forward to Jesus Revolution (Film) for a year or two. I remember when I first caught word that the story of the “Jesus Movement” about this Southern California place I call home, would become theatrical production. Greg Laurie even announced it at Harvest Crusade back in 2021 and we got excited. I took my entire family to see this film on Feb. 22nd which was an “Early Access” screening. It began with an introduction about what we were about to watch from the filmmakers and writers themselves plus insight from Anne Wilson who contributes a new song to the film. After the conclusion of the behind the scenes bonus features, a countdown from 5 to 1 shows on the big screen, and bam the film begins. I thought it was a great touch and I enjoyed the conversation before the movie started. *Since this write up, I have seen the movie twice. Once with my family and our kids and a 2nd time with my wife’s side and all of our children (even our oldest). Read below.

Rather than spend paragraphs devoted to a “review” and trying to steer clear of spoilers (you all need to experience it for yourselves), I’ll just write some words about my experiences. From the moment the first scene at the Pirate’s Cove beach with a conversation between “Greg” and the writer working on a special piece, you immediately feel the connection. Right after that brief conversation, it goes back to the beginning and where it begins. There is so much to say about the movie as a whole and the emotions that swelled up in me as I watched. This was more than entertainment, it brings about that warmth in body, shivers up the spine, a smile, and of course the waterworks. I haven’t been this touched by a film in ages. I’ve seen some touching stories over the years both from a Christian perspective and more worldly yet familiar storylines, but this is the first time I can recall that I didn’t feel a disconnect at a point or losing interest. It had me at full attention and I didn’t feel as if it was a poorly done Sunday sermon, knocking you over the head with guilt. It is Truth and really the way our Faith should be presented. While the time period is clearly represented in subtle touches, there was no separating people into preconceived boxes politically and labeling them with some sort of bias. Sure they were hippies and many addicted to drugs or at least experimenting with it, but the film was showing you how that pursuit for self-gratification left you empty inside and broken at the core. All those highs were just temporary and as the experience faded away, loneliness and unhappiness kicked in with paranoia taking the place of Hope. At that time, long before the internet and over saturation of 24hr news, there was the establishment and there were people disagreeing with it. The “Jesus freaks” sought to tackle borders and boundaries with Love and no expectations for being perfect. It’s a story with heart and appealing to all generations of people no matter where you’re at. I think as Christians we really have lost some of that foundational love that bound us all together at one time or another. We’ve lost our way and lost our understanding of the Gospel. We are children of God first and our Faith is the driving factor for who we are and what we have identified ourselves as. There is a reason Christianity has lasted for centuries, millennia, and it’s not because we looked “cool”, said the perfect words, presented ourselves as the best versions, image conscious, etc. Our Faith in God will motivate us, encourage us, fill us with hope and love, and work within us to lead us forward into sharing the good news with everyone around us. This film shows the best side of Christianity and gets to the root of who we are. We are all broken people in need of a savior. Not one of us is better than the other.

Jesus Revolution is the perfect movie for the broken, wounded, damaged, hurt, lost, and seeking answers. For those living in sin, for those standing on the edge of a cliff, For those debating the merits of Death and ready to take a leap, this film is for you. This film was for me and our entire family. Even my 92 year old grandmother took great joy in what she watched. I loved that the filmmakers created something so profound that it connects with people on a personal level yet didn’t aim for special effects and big budget marvel-like theatrics. It was simple yes and engaging and visually stimulating. Cheesy, this film certainly wasn’t. Jesus Revolution is based off Pastor Greg Laurie’s book of the same name and on a time when “Revival” was not only a possibility but attainable and in the end, achieved success in the lives changed as a result. I’m here today because of that time period and how my parents met at the Calvary Chapel tent services. They were married at the same Church in the 70’s. My parents attended Greg Laurie’s services in Riverside when they lived in Norco and I was a baby. My wife’s parents were also heavily involved in their Churches at that time in the central valley of California. When we moved down further in Orange County, our family attended Chuck Smith Jr’s Church in Capo Beach for a number of years. Even my wife’s family was going there at the same time when we were kids and we didn’t know each other. WOW!. I went to several shows at that church back in High School, a lot of the hardcore ones.

The Jesus Movement changed a generation. It changed my family and gave hope to them when some family members weren’t supportive. My aunt was there at that time period as well and it changed all of them. My brother and I grew up into the Church (Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa) and for me personally I accepted the Lord on my own while in high school, praying to God to come in my heart and change me, make me a new person in Christ Jesus. It all changed for me that one night. I found a local Church nearby because our family was in between Churches at the time. My future wife was already going there. Through her struggles and me finding answers, we met, fell in love as teenagers, and we began a 27 year love story (married for 25 this past Tuesday). I strongly believe that everything that has ever happened in our families’ lives, hers too, has brought us close together, binding us in love and commitment to one another despite all heartbreak, loss, pain, and despair. There are no coincidences and everything I have seen personally has brought me even closer to God, giving me purpose. It hasn’t been easy sometimes but through the storms and pain, there are glimpses of hope and an overwhelming sense of gratitude. My life changed the moment I prayed that prayer and took my Faith seriously. There would be no Indie Vision Music, no concerts, no short-lived record labels, no involvement in the music scene AT ALL had it not been for me taking that step out of the darkness and pushing forward in Faith. Trust me, I have made so many mistakes over the years that I’ve lost count of my own failures. This film reminded me of why I started my love affair with Christian Music and why I had that spark of passion to begin with. I lost myself along the way and lost that sense of who I am. I dove headfirst down a lonely path into negativity and doubt, of cynicism, attitude, and worrying about what people thought of me. It didn’t matter, doesn’t matter, it never mattered.

It is amazing to think how powerful entertainment truly is. It can be eye opening. It can be tearful and joyful, it can be thought provoking and motivational, and even educational. I feel as though The Jesus Revolution encompasses all those important points above and has accomplished what no other faith-based, comedy-drama Hollywood film has done – reach others in the name of Jesus and reap worldwide acclaim in doing so. Oh and I might add that having Lionsgate as a promotional partner added to the intrigue and powerful word of mouth this movie had. Every time a “Christian” movie comes out you expect it to get ripped to shreds from the get-go based solely upon the subject matter. This time it was a bit different showing that a huge likeability factor from film viewers and even some critics found things to appreciate.

In closing, Jesus Revolution is more than a simple movie, it is an event film with the possibility to show others the basis of what we believe. The Baptism scene in the film is the most riveting example of a new life in Christ, washing away the old to become anew. It brought me to tears and really cranked up the emotions (for me) when I saw the handicapped gentlemen in the wheelchair being lifted into the water and held by two men as he is prayed over during his baptism. For me that was powerful. Revival is something that can be achieved, and I feel as though this time period in our world, this dark and wicked place, is fertile grounds for change. We must spend time in prayer and ask God to heal our land. We need God’s people to rise up to grab the man or woman next you in an embrace and live out our purpose of love and commitment of showing the world in our actions of what we believe. Broken people in need of a savior. Go see this movie!

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

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