One of my eldest daughter’s closest friends attended the University of Tennessee – Chattanooga. My daughter and wife have made the trip to visit her quite often over the past 4 years. On their most recent visit, they went to a local restaurant called Yellow Deli. As they discussed the restaurant, my family realized that the operators were part of an intriguing religious sect with communities of followers across the country. This particular sect was headquartered right next door to our family friend. This fact drove even more interest. They came home with a manuscript produced by the group for me to read.
The pamphlet is a collection of stories from followers of this cult sharing their history and how they came to join the community. Each story acknowledged failures of the original hippie movements of the 60’s and 70’s. They also lean heavy into the failures of western Christianity to produce the culture of positive vibes, share-and-share alike, love and freedom shown in the communities of the earliest followers of Christ as described in the bible. For this reason, they reject the Jesus of modern christendom; however, hippie-crits are pleased to follow Yahshua (the word eventually translated as Jesus). This distinction allows them to clearly separate their belief system from confusion with the the churches of their youth as they seek to follow the savior of the bible.
As I read these pages, my heart yearned for those who have committed all they have to this movement. Regardless of their actions, followers are seeking something that this world has failed to offer, including their experience of the local church. My greatest takeaway is that there is hope for all. Every man, created in the image of God, is seeking something that this world can never deliver. My faith, both personal and collective through form of the local church I choose, must be recognized as a preview of God’s ultimate restoration. My life, not my words, are a loudspeaker to others – for better or worse.