Many would have thought of him as a “70’s hippie, rabble rouser, pot smoker, hippie commune leader…” and in a sense they’d be right about all of those! I’m talking about a dude named “Keith Green”. He was a musician who was highly involved in 70’s hippie culture. After a dissatisfying lifestyle, searching through many different religions and philosophies, and being caught up in drugs and a fleeting music career, he began to make friends with followers of Jesus, eventually went to church, and Jesus grabbed a hold of his life. He then became one of the most renowned Christian musicians in history. Literally, where Keith Green went, revival and great repentance happened. His ministry led many people to Jesus, including many hippies, hitchhikers, disenfranchised maniacs and skeptics. The religious establishment of the day often questioned him, but it was obvious that he had a love for Jesus that was much more powerful than pithy religiosity.
A.B. Simpson- was the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. But did you know about his ministry in New York City that inspired this movement? He pastored at the Thirteenth Street Presbyterian Church in New York City (NYC). His desire to minister to the flood of immigrants pouring into NYC met with great opposition from the leadership of his church. He eventually resigned his “prestigious pastorate” and set out to establish the Gospel Tabernacle, a church in the heart of the city, where all—the poor, homeless, sick, and displaced—would be welcome. He was definitely a “friend of sinners”. The religious establishment of his day often criticized him and misrepresented him. But it was obvious that he had a love for Jesus that led him to a greater devotion… a lifestyle more powerful than mere religious hypocrisy
1 Samuel 16:7 says “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I encourage you to check that chapter out and read the story of God choosing a mighty king- David, who was really a short fella who tended sheep.
But we do judge by outward appearance, whereas the Lord looks at the heart. If only we could see people like He does! He saw the heart of the apostle Paul, before he was Paul he was called “Saul”. He was a super religious guy. He was a trained Pharisee- the strictest sect of Judaism. He thought he knew the Old Testament inside and out. He believed that the Christian movement was dangerous to God’s people and hated Christians, persecuting them with no mercy. The first time he shows up in the Bible is in chapter 8 of the book of Acts, where he’s in agreement with putting Stephen to death by having rocks thrown at him! And Stephen was a guy who gave his life to serving widows and the poor, healing the sick and preaching the gospel of Jesus’ death on the cross for people’s sin! But then BAM! Paul’s travelling on a road to Damascus and is blinded by the light, and Jesus shows up in a vision calling him to himself. The rest is history man- Paul went from chasing down and killing Christians to risking his life to spread the message of Jesus to everyone- mostly people of a Roman pagan background- getting beaten up and rejected by the Pharisees- so that what he once inflicted on others was inflicted on him, and he counted it pure joy to suffer for Jesus!
Many would have labeled him a “drug addict, heavy metal freak, criminal, insane person, rebel…” In a sense they’d have been right! Now I’m talking about “Brian ‘Head’ Welch”. He was formerly in a band named “Korn” where he was addicted to Meth-Amphetamines and basically living a hardcore rock and roll lifestyle. In the middle of having great success as a rock star and having heightened depression, a concerned friend invited him to church. He went from being what many in the church may think “unreachable” to being completely fired up for Jesus! He’s helped to start orphanages in 3rd World countries and travels the United States using his music to give his story and share the gospel with others. Many in our modern day religious establishment have judged him and banished his music and book from their bookstores and churches, but his life is a wildfire offering, a sweet aroma to Christ.
And there are many more that could be written about… But next we will talk about the Son of God- who may have had the worst rap of them all… Stay tuned friends…