4 Favorite Things about the Movie ‘Jesus Revolution’

Whether or not Jesus Revolution will be used by God to start a revival remains to be seen. One thing is certain: this movie provided another way of sharing the gospel with a resistant culture if you can’t get them through the doors of your church — yet.

Contributing Writer
Updated Mar 10, 2023
4 Favorite Things about the Movie ‘Jesus Revolution’

Few Christian movies in the last 15 years have been so accessible to the unsaved as Jesus Revolution. Three of my non-believing girlfriends came with me to see it, and although they did not give their hearts to Christ as a result, they got to glimpse some big ideas of the Christian faith. Here are four scenes that stood out to me.

1.  God Is Bigger Than Our Failures

At one point in the movie, Chuck Smith (played by Kelsey Grammer) tells his wife that he can’t go out and preach to the crowd. They are expecting someone else, and he feels like a failure. His wife Kay leans over and says to her husband, “Don’t be so arrogant to think that God can’t work through your failures.”

Her words spoke to the hubris in every well-meaning Christian who feels like he or she has let God down. But when we think like that, we imagine that God needs us and can’t do his work without us. He is the Alpha and the Omega (Revelation 22:13).

By way of contrast, we “all are from the dust, and to dust all return” (Ecclesiastes 3:20). I was reminded that God wants us to be weak — that’s when he uses us most profoundly. This is counterintuitive in a world that preaches that we need to be strong to succeed.

2.  You Are for Me or Against Me

“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Luke 11:23). Lonnie Frisbee wasn’t afraid to make this bold statement in front of a crowd of high school students, and filmgoers heard those words too.

They actually came out of Christ’s mouth first. Whenever someone says they can worship God in their own way, we have to ask, “is that true?” God’s Word says no.

Christ taught that the Lord demands us to worship “in Spirit and truth” (John 4:24). “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (Psalm 145:18).

Did any unbeliever hear Luke 11:23 and cringe, thinking, “I’m offended; what does he know?” It’s easy to watch a movie that quotes Scripture and forget that the actor did not make up those lines, and the screenwriter didn’t make them up, either.

Jesus taught us to worship in truth, and he drew a line in the sand. Follow me or don’t, but there is only one way to God. You must decide. I was pleased that they didn’t shy away from those hard words.

As for my friends, so far, they have heard sermons and read at least some of the Bible. They have not yet been moved to take Christ’s side, and at least one of them thinks she can get to God her own way without Jesus.

I’m concerned for her. How can I lead them to Christ? This takes me back to the first point: I can’t fail because this is actually God’s work, not mine. All I can do is be faithful and obedient.

3. An Honest Struggle with Ego

“You want to act like this is all about God. It’s all about you.” Frisbee’s wife confronted Frisbee over his ego, over his pride that Calvary Chapel had blown up because of his gifts. Success went to his head, and his wife was right.

Frisbee’s arrogance took a different shape from Chuck’s: the latter thought he wasn’t big enough for God to use; Frisbee thought God needed Him.

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). Frisbee was making the revival all about him.

He even started to interrupt Smith’s preaching in an attempt to take over and to be the main feature, as though their tent meetings were performances rather than gatherings of the Body of Christ.

How often do we get involved in some program at the church with visions of being recognized in some special way or of earning a special place at the table in heaven?

How often do we volunteer our time in order to feel better about our sins or to look good instead of yearning to serve the Risen Christ?

It’s not uncommon, and there is forgiveness for that if we are willing to take a close and painful look at our egos and assess the motives behind our works.

And when a Christian film willingly looks at these issues, I hope that seekers let their guard down a little. We, Christians, don’t think we’re perfect. You can talk to us about how the church gets it wrong.

4. Washing the Disciples’ Feet

Early in the film, a few members of Smith’s congregation complain that the hippies’ bare feet will stain the new shag carpet.

Smith considers this as the men say something condescending like, “I hope we’ve made ourselves clear.” Smith doesn’t respond, but in the next scene, there is a long lineup outside of Calvary church.

One of the starchy men who had complained about the bare feet surveyed the line; then the camera panned to Smith on the ground, a cloth in hand, a bucket of water in front of him, washing someone’s feet and speaking gently.

He did the same for several people before the shoe-wearing church member led his wife through the door, past the pastor and the bare-footed seeker. Problem solved; shag carpet saved.

Shortly before he was crucified, Jesus taught his disciples a lesson about service. He laid out towels and water and “began to wash the disciples’ feet,” but Peter was offended. He called him “Lord” and did not want Jesus to do this for him.

Jesus responded by saying, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me” (John 13:3-8). This scene from the New Testament helped to illustrate another thing Christ said to his disciples: “for even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

This image is at the heart of what Chuck Smith did when he washed the feet of those hippies. He was emulating Christ, teaching his church, and teaching his own heart to soften and serve. He was just a human being like all of us are, resistant to change.

It’s good to think first and not conform so that people will like us. He was wise to ask questions, and then the warmth of Jesus caused him to see the hippies with new eyes.

God was able to work with and through him because of his warm heart. If Smith hadn’t been obedient, God would have done the work through someone else.

I was vaguely worried that my friends would hear a super-diluted message about how inclusive and nice Jesus is, but also that they would be subjected to heavy-handed preaching. The screenwriters inserted Scripture into many scenes, the real Word of God, not paraphrases.

Nothing was adjusted to be more palatable. Since God’s Word never returns void, this is a great comfort to me because this might be the first time that some of the audiences at Jesus Revolution have ever heard Scripture.

Jesus Revolution is not a perfect movie, but no single film depicting such a big movement and such interesting figures could possibly cover everything. Any good Christian movie, however, tells the truth about Jesus Christ.

Whether or not Jesus Revolution will be used by God to start a revival remains to be seen. One thing is certain: this movie provided another way of sharing the gospel with a resistant culture if you can’t get them through the doors of your church — yet.

For further reading:

4 Things You Should Know about Jesus Revolution

Kelsey Grammer Tears Up Discussing ‘Jesus Revolution’ on Kelly and Ryan

Why Did Jesus Wash the Disciples' Feet at Passover?

Photo Credit: ©Pressroom/JesusRevolution

Candice Lucey is a freelance writer from British Columbia, Canada, where she lives with her family. Find out more about her here.

Christianity / Life / Christian Life / 4 Favorite Things about the Movie ‘Jesus Revolution’