“And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.”
II John 1:5-6 NKJV
The Summer of Love. But what does that even mean, love? What did the culture of the world mean when it labeled that particular season with “Love”?
Free love? Preaching peace? Promoting freedom and liberation?
To what did that equate?
Free sex. Preaching pacifism. Promoting bondage to drugs and empty ideologies.
The apostle John, the Apostle of Love as he is called, defined love differently. We are commanded to love one another, and to love is to walk according to God’s commands. These we have known from the beginning. We know them from the most ancient of holy scriptures, and we know them in our very souls.
Every one of the Ten Commandments revolves around two essential principles: love God and love others. We love God by honoring Him with our focus and reverence. We love others by respecting them and treating them with dignity and honoring their value as creations of God.
Our family Summer of Love involved ministering in prayer and evangelism at Bonnaroo and in San Francisco at the counter culture’s most iconic places. We met opportunities to extend true love on street corners, park benches, water stations, and even outhouses. We looked into the eyes of so many broken and lost souls, many overlooked by the crowds. People on the fringes of society. People starving for family and hope.
At Bonnaroo, young people lined up for encouraging messages of hope. So many were so hungry to hear something that would uplift them. Roohop plowed ground in prayer, Thunder Tent ministered to the souls, the Jesus Tent met their physical needs, and the Rooreach teams administered the gospel message. Over 750 received Jesus over the four day festival, and over a thousand received ministry of some kind.
In San Francisco, there was a fifteen year old wandering the park, drawn to the sound of joy on Hippie Hill. He gave his life to Jesus and was filled with the Holy Spirit that very night.
There was James, a homeless alcoholic in constant pain. Jason prayed, and he received immediate relief. The next week, The Foundry team encountered him on Haight Street (not knowing Jason had prayed with him). They sang prophetically over him, and his very countenance changed in a moment. God certainly has His eye on James.
There was Josh, another down-and-out Haight Street dweller, the son of a minister, running away from the faith of his father. He too let us pray for healing for pain in his ankle and reported relief and more mobility. Moreover, he was reminded that God loves him still, despite his past tragedies.
At Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, at an all-day worship festival, the gospel message was delivered. Over fifty people, many of whom came off the park trails to hear the music, gave their lives to Jesus.
One of the most profound moments we experienced was about a homeless man who sat in the drum circle on Hippie Hill the day of the worship and evangelism outreach. This circle happens frequently, and is mostly homeless and transient folks jamming together. The man mentioned suddenly rose from the circle, picked up his things almost angrily, and joined one of the worship circles on the field. He sat down next to Jason and said, “I’m just so tired.” From there, he lay for hours weeping under the praises of God, allowing love and peace to wash over him. Later that evening, he prayed for salvation.
We love Him because He first loved us. Love compels us to reach out with hope to those in need around us. And it is this same love that draws people to His presence.
The message of the gospel is simple, but it is not always easy and not always safe. Sometimes it requires faith to walk through tough places or look into the heart of a broken person. The good news is that it only takes one skill to do it: love.
“All you need is love. Love is all you need.”