Reborn to be Wild by Ed Underwood reminisces about the great 60s-70s Jesus Movement and the Jesus People who came out of that. Truthfully, I couldn't make it past page 30. I tried. I really did. But this one just didn't keep my attention. My mind kept wandering. Maybe because most of it was before my time? Maybe I should just stick with fiction....
Long before becoming a pastor, Ed Underwood was a “Jesus Freak”—a young man transformed by the Jesus Movement in the 60s and 70s. He and his friends threw their hearts into a revival they thought would change the world. Except it didn’t.
Instead, as the years passed, the Jesus Movement seemed to stop moving. How did all those passionate, young Christians morph into today’s tame, suburban evangelicals? That question sparked this passionate, provocative book, which exposes six seductive lies that can sidetrack a revival… and affirms five life-changing truths that can keep it going.
Underwood writes to fan the flames of enduring revival today: “I’m asking God to use this book to show those of us from the Jesus Movement generation how to finish what we started. But more than that, I’m begging Him to call Christians of every generation to the radical commitment that fuels revival.”
It intrigues me that Springsteen used the same word the apostle Paul used to describe those who now find room for their ideas in a revolution—outsiders.
Paul used the Greek term three times to remind Christians of their responsibility to live in a way that “outsiders” (NIV, NASB) or “those outside” (NKJV) would want to know more about Jesus (1 Cor. 5:12; Col. 4:5; 1 Thess. 4:12). Outsider is his technical theological description of people who live outside of God’s mercy and grace. Outsiders were those living in the domain of darkness, outside the borders of the kingdom of the Son of His love (Col. 1:13).
Even if I didn’t know what the Bible called it, I couldn’t think of a better title for the place we lived before God’s love brought us inside—darkness. The revolution reached into the darkness outside, where we lived:
• Tough, hip neighborhoods where God was for dorky church kids and the only thing we liked about Jesus was that he wore long hair and sandals.
• Busy, preoccupied homes that didn’t have time for the silly charades of religious folk.
• A culture in which grace was when a well-starched family took the booth next to yours in a restaurant, bowed their heads and folded their hands in a way that made everyone around them feel weird.
• Neighborhoods where loyal, lifelong friendships seemed to be unraveling from the pressures of growing up, where mercy was what you called for just before blacking out when the big neighbor kid caught you in his famous “sleeper hold.”
Oh, it was darkness all right. But it didn’t seem dark to us then, before we saw the light. It was just life, our reality, our dark reality. From the core of our blackened souls to the gloomy, immoral rhythms of our everyday lives, to the sinister generational evil we were trying to ignore, we were incapable of knowing anything but darkness.
I think our hopelessness had a lot to do with our revolution that became a revival. From the darkness of our lives, we couldn’t see the light, had never seen it before. We didn’t entertain ideas about how much the light might need us or how it could improve our lives in ways that would enhance our career or get us to heaven when we were through doing what we wanted to do down here. We were blinded by the light.
Before we met Jesus, we were outsiders and we knew it. After we took Him at His word, we were insiders, and we knew that, too. And we knew how we got on the inside. Jesus rescued us from darkness. We couldn’t quote it from memory because we probably didn’t know where to find it in our crisp new American Standard New Testaments, but when we read His words, we knew Peter was talking about us when he said:
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. (1 Peter 2:9–10)
If you’re going to have a revolution, you need to have new ideas. If you’re going to find new ideas, they will never come from those who are comfortably inside. They come from the outside, from outsiders. Even though we were now inside the borders of the kingdom of the Son of God’s love, the old insiders never did embrace us. To them we would always be outsiders.
It didn’t bother us much. Actually, it didn’t bother us at all. To be totally honest, we dug it. Our hearts were on fire with the love of Christ and we didn’t really trust them with the fire anyway. All they wanted to do was douse it, control it, or worse, take credit for it.
And so we did what outsiders often do, we started a revolution fueled by a passion insiders can’t know… unless they reach out to us. And like revolutions everywhere, our fresh expressions of truth didn’t move along the protected stain-glassed corridors of the institutional church. Our revival happened in the very places that had been deserted by most religious insiders as they watched in horror, threw up their hands, and screamed bloody murder from inside their cloistered fortresses of irrelevance. It happened on the street.
Reborn to Be Wild by Ed Underwood
This book was provided for review by The B&B Media Group