The '60s Movement was a wholesale rejection of Christianity, a fossilized religion which proved to be no movement at all. It proved to be just another myth among many. The myth that Christianity has proclaimed to the world for centuries has obscured the reality of the man, Yahshua ... both what he said and the example he set by what he did and how he loved. For he was not merely a mythical or mystical figure. Instead he brought to the earth the true seed of justice... the seed of the new age, the kingdom of heaven.
Yahshua,1 the Messiah, came to his people Israel proclaiming the most radical solution to injustice that has ever been proposed. Historian H. G. Wells called it the most challenging and provocative call ever given to mankind:
...the Kingdom of Heaven, which was the main teaching of Jesus... is certainly one of the most revolutionary doctrines that ever stirred and changed human thought ... it is clear that his teaching condemned all the gradations of the economic system, all private wealth, and personal advantages. All men belonged to the kingdom; all their possessions belonged to the kingdom ... Again and again he denounced private riches and the reservation of any private life.2
In first-century Jerusalem, the "citadel of peace," Yahshua began the first corporate human experience of love and justice. Yahshua proclaimed and demonstrated to the world a new kingdom, a whole new social order to be lived out by a people, the new nation of Israel. This life of justice went far beyond caring for others the way you want others to care for you. In fact, its demands were so challenging that it was violently rejected by the majority of his fellow men, and He was cruelly and unjustly murdered. The world makes much of His death and resurrection, but they hardly acknowledge the radical outcome of His life. His Spirit, the Spirit of Love, came like a roaring, mighty wind and rested on a small band of His followers, those who hungered and thirsted after true justice.
This man Yahshua claimed to be the Son of God, and his message of love was known as the gospel of the kingdom. He dealt with the motivation of greed at its root when he said that all men everywhere "must give up all their own possessions"3 in order to follow Him and be His disciple. He was not advocating a political system that forced people to share all that they have, like the failed experiment of communism. He called them to wholeheartedly follow Him and obey His teaching.
So His followers renounced everything to gain the life He offered them. Their obedience to His words left them with nothing of their own lives. When they abandoned everything they had known -- their families, their jobs, their ambitions and desires, and all their possessions -- He gave them His eternal life. Together they relied on each other, each taking care to look out for his brothers' needs and not his own. Giving up everything was the catalyst for the Community described in the Bible,4 and their mutual care demonstrated God's justice to all those around them.5 This visible witness was the only way obedience to His words could be demonstrated at a practical level. They were all together and held all things in common. No one claimed that anything he had was his own. Thus there were no needy persons among them for all who had lands, houses or farms would sell them, bringing the proceeds of the sale and laying it at the feet of the apostles to be distributed as each person in the Community had need.6
Loving enough to give up all possessions left the disciples on common ground with each other. It brought them into a common life together. This radical love eliminated the rich and poor. This new Commonwealth of Israel practically demonstrated God's justice as a light to the nations of the world. They expressed the kingdom of heaven right here on earth. Actually living this way was the undeniable proof of their love for Him, that they were His disciples, and it showed that they had passed out of death into life -- eternal life -- for they loved one another with the love of God in their hearts.7
What resulted was a whole new society, just like Messiah Yahshua had talked about. It was made up of literally thousands of men, women and children living in peace with no needy among them. His Spirit enabled them to love each other in the same way He loved them. It began in a rush of enthusiasm that lasted almost to the end of the first century -- when it began to disintegrate into the humdrum doctrines and impersonal self-righteousness of present-day Christendom.
Christianity has failed to bring about universal love and justice. Instead, it has been the prime instrument of oppression for countless millions. Yet, in the beginning, it held a bright promise that could have changed human history once and for all.
What happened? Why did this mighty and powerful demonstration of justice lose its integrity? It waned because Love left that community. Selfishness grieved Love and insulted Love and drove Love away. The people began reverting to the self-seeking lives they had left behind and lost the life they had experienced together, while still claiming to possess eternal life. The religious system that emerged is what many of us drifted from or rejected in the '60s. After almost twenty centuries, greed and hypocrisy has polluted this entire Christian culture to the point where there was not even a remnant of the early church left for us to pattern our lives on. The early church experience has degenerated into the gnosticism8 that we see today, making it just one more myth among many in today's society.
But what we wanted was reality -- to demonstrate love and justice to a dying world. Having eternal life is the only way true love and justice can be demonstrated. Without it, we can't share a common life with others, because the fear of death still drives us to crave the security of our own possessions and independent life. Wealth comes from having security in possessions. Ask yourself why you have possessions and you'll begin to see what motivates you.9 But without the power to share a common life with others, what else can you do? Everyone has to make a living, to support a family, pay the mortgage, buy food, etc., and the tendency to acquire more than you actually need easily creeps in. It is the essence of living for yourself. We all do it -- it is in human nature. Possessions are what sustain you -- at the expense of love and justice.
A rich young ruler came to Yahshua asking Him what he must do to inherit eternal life. Our Master lovingly told him that all he had to do was sell his possessions and give them to the poor and then come and follow Him. But the rich man hung his head in sadness because he was a man of great wealth.10 He loved his own comfortable life with its acquired possessions more than the eternal life that he thought was important to him.
His response was much like ours when we began to see the cost of actually coming together in the '60s.
Our Master Yahshua spoke words that were hard for the self-satisfied to hear. But the Woodstock Nation wanted to pay the price -- or thought they did. At the root of the Movement was a generation of young people quickened by the injustice they saw, ready to take on the world and change it forever, but who had no notion of the cost involved in actually bringing about a life of love and justice. Even for those who were willing to pay the price, there was no trustworthy voice to lead them. But now there is such a voice, and it is worth paying attention to because there is a life to back it up. It is the voice of a people living together in a Commonwealth -- the nation that the sincere ones of the Woodstock generation longed for in their hearts.