I just finished reading “Death in the City,” a series of talks given in 1968, by the late Francis Schaeffer, to the students of Wheaton College. Schaeffer was calling them to step up and be Jeremiah’s. To voice a message of pending judgment, similar to how the prophet called out the nation of Israel.
When he stood at the lectern in Edman Chapel that week, and delivered those five messages, the hippie movement was a wild fire in America. Young people had fallen into all kinds of debauchery, calling it love. Along side that tectonic cultural shift, the Jesus Movement had emerged, which would eventually sweep thousands of young hearts into the Kingdom. Many of those bead bearing, bell-bottom wearing men and women listening to Francis that week are now our senior spiritual leaders, the remnant of restoration still clinging to their memories.
When they recall that era, they speak of packed auditoriums brimming with seeking hearts. Their eyes get misty recounting how college students and others descended upon Berkley University, the seat of the radical movement. And how after a week of preaching and equally radical evangelism, it’s momentum was stanched through a tough authentic love, brought by those wearing the same garb, but carrying a life-breathing message of hope. We need a similar tough love today. Not at Berkley, or any specific place, but wherever God has a Jeremiah.
Do you know any close to you? A Jeremiah? You will know when you meet one. They are cut from a prophet’s cloth. They talk about the way things need to change, the lethargy they see in the church, and give concrete ideas for how their generation can make a difference. I met one of them recently. After only a half hour with him, I felt like I wanted to follow his vision. Note, he is 30 years my junior! But I was captured by his energy, clear vision for how He wants to trust God, and a brash innovative and exploring heart, that didn’t entertain status quo. Give me an army like that, and then let me get out of the way, Lord!
Why do we need Jeremiah’s? Let’s go back to Francis Schaeffer. He pounded the pulpit in 1968, with 2000 bright eyed students in attendance. Back then, in the midst of a haze of hallucinogenic drugs and eastern philosophy, He recognized that the light on the message of Christ was dimming, and knew young people could turn up the wick. Today, we find ourselves in a similar place. Our generation has never been more spiritual, but never less Biblical. They are part of larger story unraveling in front of us, and if we aren’t careful, we could seek answers in wrong places. Solutions are complex, but the answer begins with Jeremiah, this present generation of prophets. When a culture grows dark, God turns up the wick on the church. There’s no better time for Christ to be set in relief, so that people see Him in the midst of it all. Then they need a voice to tell them where to turn—the voice of Jeremiah.
What can you and I do? We can pray by name for Jeremiah’s we know. I say that because I’m convinced He wants to use them to turn the knob of the lantern’s wick and bring a stunning light into a darkening trend. He wants to reach young people today who will steer the church as senior leaders in 40 years. What will be the remnant clinging to their memories? Will it be more work, less prayer? Will it be fear to take a stand for Christ, or bold love? Will we bring life into a period of time perhaps unparalleled for its ambivalence toward Jesus Christ? There is ‘death in the city.’ But running along side this deepening crisis is a generation of Jeremiah’s.
If you know one, a Jeremiah I mean, speak to them about prayer, and the need to ask God for a fresh visit! Pass this post along to them. Pray! You and I know God must capture hearts first, then hands will follow. They may not know how powerful prayer can be. In their fresh, a little naïve, and yet powerful faith, they can learn to storm the gates of heaven. They must call their own generation back to relationship by offering to them the answers they are running so hard in the opposite direction to find. Only a revival larger, deeper and more radical than any Jesus Movement, will stanch today’s slide away from God’s invitation to ‘come.’ It’s time to find the heart to pray! It’s time to call Jeremiah out of the wilds, onto the streets, and into the lives of their generation.