Life’s Questions – Week 11 Notes

By March 17, 2019 Sermon Notes
  1. Summer of Love

The Summer of 1967 was the largest migration of young people in American history…they came from all over the country to the Haight Asbury district of San Francisco

One leader of the leaderless movement said…”We are trying to do what no one has ever done in this culture, find a new way for humanity.”

“Minds are up for grabs, civilization is up for grabs…we are going to change the world through peace and love.”

No line up of big stars, no tickets were sold…they said it was a gathering of the tribes, a human “be-in”

Harvard professor Timothy Leary spoke to a large gathering and famously said

“Turn on, tune in, drop out…drop out of high school, college, grad school”

“Turn on” was his phrase for “getting high” on LSD in order to “tune in” to the universe and usher in a new humanity.

The “drop out” part was ironic for a man who made his living working for a University…his salary relied on students not dropping out.

LSD also called acid became the building block for this new humanity.

This phrase: new humanity was there descriptor not mine…it was their “heady” objective.

LSD was the key to love, peace, harmony…cosmic consciousness that would lead to this new way of being human.

These were the children of the Baby boom…their parents were the generation we often called “The builders.”

Their parents had endured the great depression, a World War and now the future was bright for the richest, most powerful nation on the planet.

Beneath the surface there was a deep anxiety…there was this combination of affluence and anxiety…Vietnam War, Cold War…threat of nuclear extinction.

Families looked good in public but were often terribly dysfunctional behind closed doors and the kids of this affluence and dysfunction wondered about the purpose of their lives.

The same year as the summer of love, 67, a hit movie was released entitled “The Valley of the Dolls”

The film was the story of the dark under belly of the suburbia utopia of their parents from which the children fled to San Francisco.

It was film of emptiness and brokenness…”dolls” was a play on words…it described the plastic lives of the women in the film and it was slang for the prescription drugs they were addicted to…they called them dolls.

I haven’t seen the film…would not recommend it…but I grew up listening to the theme song…a top hit…(music shapes culture in powerful ways)

“When did I stop feeling sure, feeling safe and start wondering why, Is this a dream, am I here, where are you, what’s in the back of the sky, why do we cry…got to get off this merry go round.”

Solomon would have liked the song…it fits with one of his favorite words… “Vanity”

Life is a meaningless merry go round.

Now that song, which is beautiful…breaks my heart as I think of countless empty lives it described…and describes.

This was the empty world the teens were fleeing…to the new humanity…off the “merry go round”

The movement that broke out…the “Hippie” movement…did so without the help of the Internet and sent thousands of people to San Fran…they even had their own theme song.

It came out in May of 1967 and it was called…wait for it…”San Francisco”

“If you’re going to San Francisco be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…you’re going meet some gentle people there.”

Opposite in tone and words of the “Valley of the Dolls”…but it too was all a facade.

They were fleeing the “merry go round” of their parents for another kind of emptiness.

They were called “Hippies” …a shortened version of “Hipsters”…The 60’s hipsters wanted out of the world…they wore black, and hung out in dark coffee shops.

“Hippies” were going to change the world and they wore bright colors and lived outdoors in the park.

In this new world…food, shelter, entertainment, drugs were going to be free.

Some people called diggers dug food out of garbage cans from stores and restaurants…cooked it and took it to the streets to distribute for free.

I watched a video of these diggers talking about giving away free food…with no sense of the irony that they took it from grocery stores who paid for it so they could get it from the garbage for “free.” The farmers didn’t grow it for free. The shippers didn’t ship it for free.

But as if showed by magic…they were giving away free food…from dumpsters.

They said “We don’t need money, we don’t need anything…just free love, free food, and free LSD.”

Meanwhile the city was under tremendous strain…the form beauty of the area was now turning into a cesspool of human waste, drug addicts, sexually transmitted disease, malnutrition and crime.

The Summer of love that was going to lead to a new humanity…lasted just that long…a single summer…in fact it didn’t even really survive a summer.

LSD, the sacrament of the original hippies was leading to bad trips…people lost their minds, permanently broke their health…the hospitals were over run.

The people who were going to change humanity by doing away with jobs and money and education…wondered into hospitals and entrusted their lives to doctors with had jobs who had gone through years of education.

Drug dealers began pushing highly addictive drugs…paranoia set in, bodies became diseased, garbage piled up on the streets…people had visible sores, people’s faces changed into despair…so much for the flowers in your hair.

A year later…Haight (hate) Street was largely free of the Hippie movement and what was left was a host of closed store fronts…stores that a year earlier had been open and serving the community.

A search for new humanity through LSD and freedom from work, responsibilities, rules…led to ruin.

Marxism was another attempt at making a new humanity…I won’t elaborate but it was and is a vastly more destructive to humanity than the Summer of Love.

It has left hundreds of millions dead in its wake…From Stalin’s “Terror famine”, to Mao’s “Cultural Revolution”, to Pol Pot’s “killing fields.”

These horrible misguided attempts at making a “new humanity” have proven to be utter disasters for humanity.

It’s true about these large scale movements…and its true for individuals…who believe they can, by their own power…remake themselves into something beautiful apart from the grace of God…it always turns ugly in the end.

But the hope for a “New Humanity” is built into us…we are hard wired for purpose and for God…but sin has cross-wired us and made us foolish.

So, as we discussed last week…we reject the source of living water…and dig our own wells to quench our thirst for life and meaning.

But the thirst is there…we cannot escape it…you and everyone you has “eternity” in their hearts.

Ecc. 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

God purposes will stand…his purposes are ultimately beautiful…but people can resolutely refuse to join his purposes and miss the beauty.

He has wired us for eternity…it is built into our very hearts…it is why we yearn for beauty and meaning.

Yet…now because of our rebellion we are, acting from our own wisdom and ideas…clueless as what to what God is up to…if he had not revealed himself to us.

We are simultaneously built for purpose and we are foolish…we go looking for this “New way of being human” but we go looking in all the wrong directions.

This, as I said last week, is an ancient problem…with an ancient solution

Adam(a dawm) is the Hebrew word for “human”…and the name of the first Human.

Eve, the name of the first woman means “life”

The first couple staged the first human revolution…the story of humanity is revolution…leading to devolution (not evolution)

It is the story of revolt against God.

But it is not the story of noble Adam and Eve becoming free of God’s oppressive rules…it is foolish man and woman becoming enslaved to their own passions, sin, and death.

They indeed try to find a new way to become human…this new way was to detach from the one who gave them life and sustained their lives.

What quickly followed was devolution into anxiety, shame…and murder…that soon became a pandemic of evil and suffering with sin as the root cause all of the mess.

This is part of the story we have spent the first quarter of this year looking at…this is the bad news part of the story.

The other part of the story is the good news part of the story…this part of the story is how God is going to bring about a new humanity by restoring people to relationship with him.

It won’t come through LSD, or societal revolution…it will come through the Messiah, Jesus.

He shows up very early in the story…in Genesis he is the seed of Eve who will crush the serpents head.

He is the Passover lamb in Exodus who will free his people from slavery to sin.

He is the Tabernacle “God with us”

He is the one who will fulfill all the laws of Moses perfectly…he will love God and others without failure.

He is the Mediator/Priest who will open the way for us to go directly to the very presence of God.

He is the King from the line of David who reigns in perfect justice and love…he does what Kings were meant to do…makes the lives of the people in his kingdom rich and beautiful.

Then in the Gospels he shows up claiming to be the fulfillment of all this OT “stuff”

He is the true King, Priest, Prophet…He is God incarnate…the Messiah, Savior.

Paul wrote that Jesus is the new “Adam”…the new human

He alone opens up the way for us to become the “new humanity”

So we have been on a brisk walk/jog through the Bible.

The book through which the God who has always been…has spoken to us of his purposes.

Today we are in the next to last section of the Bible…we are in what are called the “letters” but they are not random letters…they are letters written to address certain things and certain people…they are also called “epistles.”

The letters were written to churches to provide instruction on how to live as God’s people…the new humanity.

How to close the gap on loving God and loving others…this is what the law was about and what Jesus did perfectly and what Jesus’ life in us through the Spirit allows us to do more and more as we walk with him in faith and obedience.

There are 13 letters written by Paul, not arranged in the order they were written but from longest to shortest.

A Letter to the Hebrews…written by an unnamed close associate of the Apostles.

A letter by James and Jude, brothers of Jesus.

Then letters by Peter, and John two of the first followers of Jesus.

These letters are diverse in content but they have a unified theme…”How do we live as God’s newly created (re-created) humanity?”

Three Big Themes for the letters overall:

-New Power

-New Purpose

-New People

The gospel is what gives the power to become new humans, it is what reveals the purpose of humans and it was shapes us into a new community…a new people.

But I suppose you could make the case that it would be better said that these things are “renewed” rather than “new”

That is, they are not something brand new…but they are a return to our original design.

Pre-fall Adam and Eve had access to the power, did not lack purpose…and were God’s newly created people.

So the letters discuss how Christ restores us…and how we are to go about living our lives as his empowered and purposeful people.

  1. NEW POWER:

What is power? It is ability.

If I am able to do something or act in a particular way…I have power.

A TV has no inherent power…it must be plugged into a power source to operate…when power is released from the power grid through a cord into the TV it is able to operate.

A muscle disconnected from the nervous system by injury or disease has no power…but if properly connected and then you can engage it through your mind/will…you can make legs run or arms lift.

Many believe that people are powerless to change at the heart level…especially after a certain age or if have inherited certain traits…some believe we are who and what we are…period.

A man said to me recently about another man…”He won’t change…not at his age.”

The gospel is power…power of God for transformation.

This power is available to anyone at any time.

Certainly habits we have formed over time can make our responses difficult to change…but the power to change at the heart level is available through the gospel.

Rom. 1:16   I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

This salvation is not just something that is unseen and eternal…not just when we die.

It shows up on the outside (changed lives) in the here and now.

Lewis: Faith is not a matter of us hearing what Christ said a long time ago and trying to carry it out. It is the “Real Son of God at your side. He is beginning to turn you into the same kind of thing as Himself. He is beginning, so to speak, to ‘inject’ His kind of life and thought. His “Zoe”, into you…”

His life is power…to change, to live and become a new creation.

Let’s look at a few verses related to power.

1Cor. 6:14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.

-We will experience resurrection just as Jesus did.

-Final and full transformation is a settled future fact.

2Cor. 4:7   But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

-His power is demonstrated in our weakness.

-This doesn’t mean we intentionally should continue to fail or remain weak willed…it means that we can change in substantial ways…and when this happens it can only have been because of God.

2Cor. 10:4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

-There is actual ability to fight battles on the spiritual plane through relationship with Christ.

*I have personally seen demons submit to the name of Jesus.

But the name of Jesus as some magic incantation but what it actually means to act under someone else’s name.

It means we are their representative…we have power delegated to us from them.

All power…physical and spiritual ultimately derives from him…he has delegated it to us when we live in a faith relationship with him.

Phil. 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

-The power of God that raised Christ’s body from the dead is available to us now…even in our sufferings…especially in our suffering.

2Pet. 1:3   His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

-The power of God is operational in us to live life like Christ did and would have to us to live.

-We have access to what we need to change…we must see this and embrace it.

The Epistles speak of God’s power in his people:

-To do what God wants done and be who God has made us to be.

We can increasingly love God and others…we can fulfill the law by Loving God and others…by his power operational in us.

We seek to love God and others not to earn favor…but because we have been given favor…Grace.

Grace is a power from God to us.

The letters demonstrate how to think and act and believe so that this is true of our lives.

*We do not have inherent power of this kind…we must plug into the power and remain plugged in.

So the NT letters do not teach us to “Drop out and turn on” (get high)

But rather to “seek the Lord because if we do we will find him…and in him is power”

They teach us to “Mess up fess up”…because he is faithful to forgive if we are faithful to confess.

-The teach us how to train our minds and bodies so that we are more quickly able to trust and obey God.

-They remind of us God’s power in the stories of OT and his power in the life of Christ…so we can have hope and faith to experience that power ourselves

  1. NEW PURPOSE

The summer of love was a misguided search for purpose.

As I said it is like a parable of the human condition…the story of humanity condensed to a single summer in a single place.

They rejected the empty materialism of their parents and embraced the empty pseudo-spiritualism of the 60’s drug culture.

They traded empty for empty…the meaninglessness they had become used to, for the meaninglessness that looked shiny and new.

What is tragic about humanity’s search for meaning is that we leave this huge field of broken wells behind us…but we keep digging where there is no water to be found.

Because are hard-wired for meaning.

Viktor Frankl wrote “Man’s Search for Meaning” to express his experiences and conclusions after having survived a Nazi death camp.

He discusses how those who lost hope for the future were the first to die in the camps…it had less to do with physical health and more to do with the health of their “hope”.

His conclusion is that meaning comes from three possible sources:

  1. Work (doing something significant)
  2. Love (caring for another person)
  3. Courage (enduring difficult times)

He believed suffering is in and of itself…meaningless…but we give our suffering meaning by the way we respond to it.

Frankl was an amazing person…who endured more than the mind can imagine and went on to help many people.

But his purposes, his meaning…helpful though they are for some…temporally…work, love, courage…are purposes that only a few resilient people are able to attain to.

And those people only for a brief time on this planet.

What if I am not strong enough on my own to have courage?…I die without meaning.

What if significant work is taken from me?…I live without meaning.

What if I have no one to love or to love me?…I am alone and without meaning.

Let’s look at some verses from the letters…

Rom. 8:28   And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

I have not lost ultimate hope, even when I have lost hope as a perspective, or my circumstances seem hopeless…God’s purposes in my life will stand.

2Cor. 5:5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

This purpose refers to our resurrection, life beyond death…our final hope is what fuels our present hope.

Phil. 2:13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

God works in me for his purposes

I cooperate with him…but I do not have to make life happen on my own

-I need only obey faithfully…trusting his purposes will stand.

Col. 1:16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

-My purpose is his glory…I don’t look for or live for meaning apart from him.

-I must look for meaning only in him.

Rev. 4:11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

Those created things…include you and me.

But he does not treat us as things…but as sons and daughters.

Finally…the letters speak of what it means to live as his new people.

III. NEW PEOPLE

The Summer of Love wanted to create a unified common people…they wanted to break down all barriers…no racism, no selfishness.

They wanted what the church was designed by God to be.

The books of Acts describe just this kind of people…and it works not because of LSD but because of the Holy Spirit.

Paul’s letter to the church at Rome…a church almost split in half by cultural differences…begins by telling them of the power and purpose of the gospel…how it created a new people.

He gives the fullest description of what God has done in Christ to remedy the human condition…then he ends his letter with practical applications for how the church was to live together as God’s new people.

Listen to what he said was the social impact of the gospel on the new humanity in Christ

Rom. 12:3   For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. 9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

The Hippies of 1967 with all their good intentions could have read this letter written almost 2000 years earlier and seen God’s design for a new people…but God’s design also included God’s power…power they lacked…power LSD lacked.

Listen to Peter as he describes the new people and their purpose. 

1Pet. 2:9   But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

CONCLUSION:

The summer of love was about…a new power, purpose and people.

They wanted to fundamentally transform how they lived as human beings

The wanted transformation because they lacked purpose…they could not grasp meaning in the vain search for money and things they saw in their parents (by the way, most of them would grow up to live for money and things)

They were disgusted by racism and war (those things remained)

They were racked with anxiety and fear (they became the most medicated people in history to that point)

But they lacked any real power to change…so what did they look to? LSD

LSD would empower mental, spiritual, social change…why did they think this?

Because when they were high “on a trip”…many of them felt no anxiety, no anger, no jealousy, no racism

But this was not transformational change of their hearts and minds…this was simply “fooling their minds” by chemical unreality.

Paul said “Don’t be drunk with wine (he could have included LSD)…be filled with the Spirit.”

*To be drunk or high means to be under the power or influence of substances.

*We are to live under the power or the influence of the Spirit…this leads to power not brokenness.

LSD was a diversion off a cliff…not a path to being new humans.

Because nothing was changing…at least not for the better…life in and around them went into disarray…LSD brought entropy not transformation.

San Francisco fell apart, relationships fell apart, their physical and mental health fell apart.

They wanted to love and serve each other…but they were unable to do this because they lacked any power to consistently do so.

In the end the whole thing was a parable of human existence…powerless, purposeless, people-less.

People-less because when everyone is frantically seeking self-enlighten and self-satisfaction and self-whatever…you have a collection of selfish people…not a recipe for a new community of new humans.

The Letters, The Epistles can be summarized by turning the three points into three challenges…

  1. Go live in God’s transformation gospel power
  2. Go live a life of lasting gospel purpose…that no one and nothing can take from you
  3. Go live as a member of God’s gospel community…using your gifts to serve God by serving others.

One of the “survivors” of the Summer of Love…I call her a survivor because it appears that it did not ruin her life completely…says of that time…”It was shiny, flashy…and it was gone in a minute”

The gospel has and is remaking humanity…heart at a time…it’s not flashy it is not shiny…it is real and it is powerful.

It is people living in houses, apartments, dorms, mud huts, hospital beds…on every continent…in every conceivable condition…living day by day in the power of the gospel.

A new kind of people…who are not shaped entirely by the things they see but by what is currently unseen.

My challenge today is read through the letters…read with them with power, purpose, people lens.

My application this morning is simply this: If God has found you and you have become his new creation.

You have access to all the power you need to live a thriving life.

You have all the purpose you need to go through anything that happens in this life.

And you have been made a part of a new people, his church…they need you and you need them to live fully in this power and purpose.

Don’t chase shiny things…you have what you need in Christ…don’t forget it.

The solution for your current problems is an ancient one…in fact the solution is more ancient than the problem itself.

Before Adam had sinned, God knew what he would he do to pay for that sin.

Rev. 13:8…The Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.

Next week we will look at the last book of the Bible…Revelation.

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