If so, that would make us followers of a brown-skinned Middle Eastern guy who didn’t speak a word of English. His platform for change was good news to the poor, freedom for prisoners, free universal health care, women’s rights, voluntary redistribution of wealth, tolerance of differences, and justice for the marginalized and oppressed. His main enemies were the religious right and the military-industrial complex. His political enemies said that his message of change would destroy the moral fiber of the nation and that his financial policies would ruin the economy. He was eventually arrested and accused of being the leader of a terrorist cell and working to overthrow the government. He died a convicted felon.
So you want us to build our nation on this guy’s teachings and example? Cool! When do we get started?
Listening to Bob Dylan’s “Slow Train Coming” album from 1979 on iTunes while I was working on website stuff this morning. Dylan’s song, “I Believe In You” never fails to bring tears to my eyes and an ache to my heart as I think of friends – brothers and sisters in the faith – who, like Bob, made such sweet and simple and whole-hearted declarations of faith in Jesus when we were all young would-be world-changers.
Then through the years, the cares of the world, the failures of the flesh, and the pain, hurt, and disappointment of betrayals by brothers and church leaders, caused them to drift from the “I Believe In You” intensity of their early faith.
Some are gone now, others living lives of quiet desperation. Some who thought we were all going to change the world for God have settled for accepting the world as all there is. I grieved for them today as I listened to Bob sing his bold declaration – so confident in its simplicity and, as we were back then, so unaware of the twists and turns of the road ahead.
From time to time people tell me I shouldn’t be so moved by Bob’s music from the “Slow Train Coming” and “Saved” era, but I’ve been moved by Bob’s music ever since I first heard it! I’m still moved by the music he’s making at 71! And I’ll tell you this: Bob’s declaration to Jesus, “I Believe In You,” rings as clear to me now as it did when I first heard him sing it in 1979!
As for my fallen-away friends, who made their own declarations of undying love and unshakable faith all those years ago, I think Jesus still remembers their sweet and simple faith, and still has more room for them in his Kingdom than we usually do in our crowded hearts and busy schedules!
I grieve for what was lost, but I have hope for what may yet be found. And “I Believe in You” still rings true!
Listen to “I Believe In You” by Bob Dylan here.