Jesus versus religion

(Click here for a video of John reading this Catch.)


Series: Characteristics of the Jesus Movement for Today

1. The Jesus Movement unified believers. (It was all about Jesus.)

“Jesus is just alright with me.” The Doobie Brothers (1972)

There’s a reason why it’s called the Jesus Movement. It was all about Jesus.

In 1966 a gospel group named the Art Reynold Singers recorded their song, “Jesus Is Just Alright.” In 1969, the Byrds covered it and then in 1972, the most popular version was released by the Doobie Brothers. Why did a gospel song about Jesus receive such mainstream attention? Because in 1969 and for a few years following (in fact, the Jesus Movement was pretty much flanked by the various versions of this song), Jesus was just alright with a growing number of rock and roll fans all over the world. Suddenly, almost overnight, Jesus was acceptable to people who formerly would not have anything to do with God, religion, church or Christianity. Suddenly Jesus was a different story. 

In 1971 both Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell came out on Broadway. Christian music got its start during this time, but it was an afterthought, because Jesus was already showing up everywhere in pop culture. Norman Greenbaum; Creedence Clearwater Revival; Barry McGuire; James Taylor; Bob Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary were all singing about Jesus and even the return of Christ to judge the world.

While the younger generation was seeking answers to the big questions of life and struggling with student unrest, civil rights and the war in Vietnam, Bob Dylan was telling everyone that the answer was blowin’ in the wind. And indeed it was. It was the wind of the Spirit of God blowing people to Jesus (John 3:8).

The reason why this was important to the people who were searching during the Jesus Movement as well as those searching today is because faith is personal. Becoming a Christian is not just about placing faith in an intellectual belief or a doctrine or creed; it’s a personal encounter. Jesus can be known in one’s heart through the Holy Spirit. Our spirit bears witness with His Spirit that these things are true. 

Jesus was radical and rebellious. He upset the traditional thinking about God and religion. The traditional religious establishment was so against Jesus that they were ultimately responsible for His death. It’s the same today. Do you want to follow a TED talk or a person? Do you want to know a form of godliness or the power of Christ? Do you want to look like a Christian or be a Christian? The answers depend on what you do with Jesus.

God created us for Himself. He wants a relationship with us. That’s why He made us in His image so we could walk and talk together. And how better to reveal Himself to us but through a human representation of Himself? And what better expression of Himself than through His only begotten Son? Not only has Jesus accomplished what was necessary for making us acceptable to God, Jesus is God’s best idea of what a human being is. 

Read the gospels. Get to know Jesus. Fall in love with Him. Watch what He does. Feel His compassion; sense His tears; imagine His anger at those who prevent the children from coming to Him; wonder about His words. Drink in His mercy and forgiveness. It all begins and ends with Jesus.

Have you seen Jesus my Lord?

He’s here in plain view.

Take a look, open your eyes,

He’ll show it to you.

      from the song “Have You Seen Jesus My Lord?” by John Fischer (1970)

Walkin’ down the road of life heard about a man

Claimed be the Son of God; claimed be a man

Well He said He loved me so much, He died so I could live

And He still is lovin’ me now, and wants me to be His

Is it possibly true?

Could it be the way?

Is it what I need?

Will it give me life?

Will it set me free?

      from the “The Road of Life” by John Fischer (1969)

This entry was posted in Jesus Movement, Worldview. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Jesus versus religion

  1. Mark D Seguin says:

    Great Catch and loved this Gospel truth! “Becoming a Christian is not just about placing faith in an intellectual belief or a doctrine or creed; it’s a personal encounter. Jesus can be known in one’s heart through the Holy Spirit. Our spirit bears witness with His Spirit that these things are true.” Big Amen!!!

  2. Toni Petrella says:

    All great songs and the one from 1969 really something. I always hope millions more will realize Jesus can do all in the song and even more. Nothing like when so many come to him and keep coming.

  3. Toni Petrella says:

    I will try again I sent a comment and went totally out but, still didn’t show. So try again.

  4. Thank you, John! Important stuff. I wrote and recorded the song “Jesus Is Not a Religion” having friends in countries with oppressive religions. Filmed in New Delhi with a Hindu (!) dance group:

    • Mark D Seguin says:

      Brother I enjoyed your song & video. I could be wrong I surely have been before and please feel free to correct me if I am wrong your video offends a vast majority of Religions, which wouldn’t it be a bit better to find common ground with those other beliefs and then explain how Jesus isn’t a Religion and is love?
      PS Just my opinion, yet walking along side a person & loving them & not pointing out their errors and leaving that to the Holy Spirit I find people skills tend to work a bit better… Yet wish you & yours God’s speed.

      • Hi Mark,
        I’m glad you enjoyed my song and video “Jesus Is Not a Religion”. Thanks for telling me! I wrote the song in Swedish, then in English, and include it in every live concert I do. The response is always overwhelmingly positive … “A relief” … “a comfort” … “encouraging”, a.s.o. Yes, some – very few – have expressed that they felt offended. I can only recall one Christian and one Muslim person who reacted that way. I truly enjoy singing it.
        I’ve also written a book with the same title, where I develop my thoughts a little more. I believe, like you, that we as humans have more common ground than differences. Another song that I wrote: “Where the walls of class and race ande heritage divide
        Religion sometimes keep us far apart
        Still a force, presence can make enmity subside
        Linking hand to hand and heart to heart
        Love without limit … clearly shown in Jesus …”

        All the best to you

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.