About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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A Jesus Freak On
The Wrong Side Of The Fence 


In 1972 I was called a "Jesus Freak", as if I was some kind of freak of nature.  I admit, I didn't fit into any prevailing mold.  I looked like a hippie, but I wasn't.  I was a Christian, but not a traditional church goer.  My long hair and bell bottom jeans gave me an edge in preaching Jesus to hippies, but did little for my credibility with the traditional church.  Traditionalists were glad that I was a Christian, but not so glad about the way I expressed my faith.  After preaching Jesus, most hippies weren't all that excited about the way I expressed my faith either.  I was just another Jesus Freak.  No matter what side of the fence I was on, the hippie side or the church side, I was out of place.   






What really went through the minds of those in one older Pentecostal congregation to whom I preached one Sunday evening?  They were dressed in their Sunday best; and me?  Well, it was Sunday night, not prime time Sunday morning.  A T-shirt and jeans seemed fine for me; and my hair?  Well, attempting to make it less visible by putting it in a ponytail didn't really work.    


One day while witnessing in a park, a distinguished looking man reminded me that somewhere in the Bible; he didn't know where, it said it was a disgrace for a man to have long hair.  In silence, he sheepishly walked away when I told him the verse in question was 1 Corinthians 11:14.  I didn't mean to embarrass him, but if he was going to confront me with a Bible verse, shouldn't he know where it was found?      


One Sunday morning my friend and I visited a closed Brethren church.  We entered the small little one roomed framed building to see the men sitting in the front half of the room.  Women and children were squeezed into the back behind a wooden rail that resembled a fence.  Once the meeting ended, a man chastised my friend for not praying in King James English during an open time of prayer.  It was the spirit of satan within my friend who caused him to pray in everyday English, or so we were told.  My friend remained respectfully silent, but not me.  However, to no avail, my defense of my friend fell on deaf ears.  I was simply on the wrong side of the fence again, but so were the women and children at the back of the room.  Hadn't those men ever read Galatians 3:28? 


Believe it or not, there was one occasion where my long hair put me on the right side of the fence.  It was 1972, in Bradenton, Florida.  David du Plessis, known as Mr. Pentecost, was the guest speaker.  He was probably the most well known Pentecostal preacher of the 20th century.  He actually went out of his way one afternoon to spend time with me.  What a blessing that was. 


If time spent with David du Plessis wasn't enough of a blessing, after he spoke on forgiveness, an elderly white haired man came to me in tears.  As he gave me a big hug, he begged my forgiveness.  He told me that I, with my long hair and hands raised in worship, reminded him of Jesus.  He immediately repented of every nasty word he had uttered against men with long hair.  It felt good to be on the right side of the fence for a change.    


Evangelicals are on the wrong side of the fence in Canada according to one government official.  He says we're out of touch with Canadian cultural values of tolerance and acceptance.  In one sense of the word he's right. 


Roughly between 745 and 686 B. C,. the prophet Isaiah preached to Judah, the southern kingdom of Israel.  He was out of step with his Israeli cultural values as well.  He prophesied, "woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness". (Isaiah 5:20)  Judah had redefined God's standards of godliness to satisfy their sinfulness.  What was once considered to be good was now considered to be evil.  What was once considered to be evil was now embraced as being good.  Light was dark.  Dark was light.   


Like Judah in Isaiah's day, western society has turned everything upside down.  What was once considered immoral is now moral.  What was once considered godly is now considered intolerant, outdated, and bigoted.  Like Isaiah, Christians find themselves on the wrong side of society's fence. 


Let's think about this for a moment. Who's really on the wrong side of the fence, and whose fence are we talking about?  Isaiah said, "therefore the Lord's anger burns against His people, His hand is raised, and He strikes them down". (Isaiah 5:25)  That's the fate of those who turn good into evil and evil into good.  It's clear to me, we may be on the wrong side of society's fence, but society is on the wrong side of God's fence.  So to all of us old time Jesus Freaks, be assured, thanks to Jesus, we're on the right side of the right fence after-all.  I'd hate to be on the wrong side of God's fence.



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