Lonnie Frisbee is a young man who doesn’t fit in anywhere in 1968 American society. He rejects the drug-and-sex culture of his rebellious peers. He also rejects the norms of America’s straight-laced society.
He doesn’t wear suits or ties. Sometimes, he doesn’t even wear shoes. With tie-dye apparel and a walking stick, he looks a lot like the counterculture hippies of the Woodstock era who oppose organized religion and who question truth.
Frisbee’s beliefs, though, aren’t so counterculture in 1960s America. He loves Jesus. He loves the church. And he wants his generation to find hope in Christ.
Will anyone accept Frisbee?
The new film Jesus Revolution (PG-13) follows the true story of Frisbee, who meets a middle-aged California pastor named Chuck Smith and urges him to embrace these “Jesus-loving hippies” who need a church home.
Smith’s small congregation is anything but countercultural. In fact, many of its elderly members believe hippies are one of society’s biggest problems.
“I know we must seem pretty strange, but if you look a little deeper—if you look with love—you’ll see a bunch of kids that are searching for all the right things just in all the wrong places,” Frisbee tells Smith.
Frisbee’s generation is like a “sheep without a shepherd, chasing hard after lies,” he says.
“And the trouble is—your people reject them,” he adds.
The film then follows Smith’s bold embrace of the hippie generation. He invites them to his home and his church, telling them that they are always welcome. (A handful of church members walk out in protest, yet most remain.) Soon, Smith’s congregation is overflowing and is forced to move to an outdoor tent. Soon after that, television and newspaper reporters are covering this “hippie revival,” curious if it will last.
Jesus Revolution is an inspiring feel-good film, but it also delivers some tension. Frisbee and Smith clash over worship styles and theology. (Frisbee wants a worship service filled with spontaneity and healing, while Smith wants more organization.) Eventually, they go their separate ways, similar to Paul and Barnabas in the Book of Acts.
The film is based on the real-life hippie revival that landed on the cover of Time Magazine in 1971 (headline: “The Jesus Revolution”) and that led to a 1972 Billy Graham/Bill Bright crusade in Dallas where 80,000 high school and college students gathered.
It was made by the same company (Kingdom Story) that was behind I Can Only Imagine, American Underdog, I Still Believe and Woodlawn.
The timing of its release (Feb. 24) seems nothing short of divine. The same month it hit theaters, a lengthy revival/outpouring broke out at Asbury University in Kentucky and a handful of other schools. Weeks earlier, Americans were united in prayer for an NFL player who collapsed and nearly died on national television. Keep in mind: The Feb. 24 date was announced last summer—months prior to those Spirit-led faith-centric events.
Thankfully, Jesus Revolution delivers an excellent on-screen product. The script carries you on a journey from desperation to hope. The synth-focused music score tugs at your emotions. The Bible-centric message aims squarely at your heart.
The film urges us to love people as Jesus loves them. It encourages us to carry the Gospel to those who look and act different. It reminds us that the Good News can unify our broken, stone-casting culture—but only if we follow Christ’s example.
Jesus Revolution delivers a powerful message our polarized society needs.
It stars Jonathan Roumie (The Chosen) as Frisbee, Kelsey Grammer (Cheers, Frasier) as Smith, Joel Courtney as Greg Laurie, Kimberly Williams-Paisley (Father of the Bride) as Laurie’s mother and Anna Grace Barlow as Laurie’s girlfriend Cathe.
Entertainment rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
Jesus Revolution is rated PG-13 for strong drug content involving teens and some thematic elements. It includes no coarse language or sexuality.