Making sense of Life
John Smith | Melbourne, Australia
John "Bullfrog" Smith was the founding President of God's Squad Christian Motorcycle Club, Melbourne, which has spread from Australia through Europe, New Zealand and the USA. But that is only a part of his incredible, eventful story.
He wrestled with meaning and purpose in life, secret atheism and how to truly change the world for good. John passed in 2019, however, the impact of his life continues to be felt...
11min 09s | English | WATCH WITH SUBTITLES IN OTHER LANGUAGES →
THEMES IN THIS STORY
Meaning and Purpose
Change the world
The Bible, Jesus and culture
KEY QUOTES from this story:
Billy Thorpe began to scream out to the audience and got the audience punching the air and screaming the obscenity back, anger against war and the whole of that generation. Suddenly, they gently eased into “Somewhere over the rainbow”, a longing for a different world, for something that would answer an existential hole into which that generation had fallen.
Well, what better context to go to, to start a conversation about Jesus?
On one night it was like the stars, you could reach up and grab a handful. And I looked up and felt the infinite sense of the universe, and just said out loud, “there is no God. When I die, I'll die like a dog, I’ll rot in the ground and the worms will eat me”.
He said, “you know, most people that have lost their faith in God or meaning in life, it really isn't an intellectual question at all. It's usually a moral and ethical question”. And I thought, my struggle with God is not really a struggle with God, it’s with making sense of my own life.
My solid sense that God is there and there is meaning to all of our lives has never weakened from that day to this.
I'd seen a gospel that really was beginning to address every cry of the human heart, not just the desire to make sure you didn't go to the bad place and got yourself a ticket for the good place.
When Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young in 1968... sang a song, “Won't you come with us to Chicago? We can change the world. Rearrange the world”... I felt that. I really believed that. My hippie mates believed that.
Us Jesus freaks believed the love of Jesus could bring that about.
They'd tried every religion in the world... got spaced out on acid and gone to Alpha Centauri and come back. And they were all saying, “I've now got my act together because I've met Jesus!”
“God, I don’t think you’re there, and if all we are is just a total accident, I don't want to live anymore... But if you're there, you'd better do something right now because I'm going to jump”. And just as he said that, a long-haired freak came up the other side of the plateau and said, “excuse me, sir, but are you the person Jesus sent me to talk to”?
(Speaking to a school group in the 1970's)
There's only two possibilities for the salvation of the human race. One of them is God, if he’s there, to change our natures, to bring us into love and hope and faith and care for one another. Or the other is nature itself, that somehow we will evolve the right way.
Christianity is always calling the world to transformation.
I've always believed, give me a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other, that's all I need to interact.
There are several messages of Jesus that are 2000 years old, but are absolutely, to-the-minute relevant. I mean, the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the Peacemakers. Blessed are those that hunger and thirst after rightness and goodness.” I mean, what could be more relevant than that?
It was the society where we had so much to spend that produced a tenfold increase in clinical depression.
When I look at the New Testament, what it says about Jesus is very simple. He spoke truth to power. He advocated for the poor, he healed the sick, he made friends of the marginalised, and he preached the good news.
We followed that pattern with God's Squad. Go where they are, stay where they are, listen to them, converse with them, love them and go there believing that they're not in total darkness. For God is not very far from any one of us.
(Speaking to Armidale Technical College students)
The transcendent longing within the human spirit that is expressed in art and poetry down through the centuries in every culture, is a hidden indicator of a reality that we’re not just physical creatures, that there's something else to us.
The world doesn't have to be the way it is. And if we would take Jesus seriously, it could be different.
And ever since then, nothing really matters anymore. except the love of Christ and doing something about changing the world.
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.’
‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Mark 12:30-31
A short taste of this story.