Monday, October 20, 2008

Revival


The music begins to play. It's a haunting, swaying tune that envelops you and leaves nothing outside the realm of possibility. The people in the room are caught up and the air starts to heat up. A minister walks to the front and his message is a passionate one. He speaks of renewal, of recommitting your life to Christ - going further. He speaks of an outpouring of the spirit. People start to cry, to shout, to fall to their knees. And then there is the magic word - Revival!

Or maybe it is simply a normal service like mine was last night. A challenging message on a challenging topic followed by the proclamation: If we get this right there might be - Revival!

The word resonates. When it is invoked people start dreaming of "what if" and start calling for the Lord's spirit to rain down. We've all heard stories of times when mass conversions happened and it impacted history and we called it - Revival!

It got me to thinking. Should we be desiring revival? Is it really that Holy Grail of Christianity - the chance for us to change the world or change our nation or change history? I guess the problem I have with the idea is the very ideas that are ingrained in the term. We think mass conversions, changes in society, a return to a purer form of living, the outpouring of signs and wonders... We want to be history makers.

Nothing inherently wrong with that I guess. Acts 2 records over 3000 coming to Christ in one day due to the original moving of the Holy Spirit onto the apostles after Pentecost. Old Testament records report mass societal changes under good kings such as Hezekiah or Josiah; a return to walking in the way of the Lord. So where's the issue?

Maybe it's in our expectations. A revival involves massive change over a short period of time. We've heard stories of drug addictions cured with a word, cancer with a touch, and conversions within the span of a sermon. THIS is revival! We want the Lord to come, pour out his Spirit and make some changes - NOW. We're fed up with the frustrating pace that we see God working in and want a sign - kind of like the Israelites when they're wandering in the desert. They are tired of the pace of what is happening, and despite signs and workings along the way, they continually demand more and more FASTER!

This is revival. We doubt the timing of the Lord or doubt he is evident in our day to day lives and struggles. We want miracles. Don't get me wrong. I believe in miracle and I think revivals are biblically valid. I just wonder if we value it too highly at the expense of the daily wonders and workings of the Lord. We ignore the struggles that ARE a walk with God. Christianity is not easy and struggle is a sign of a forward moving relationship: we HAVE to struggle against our very nature. Christ says in Romans 5 that perseverance creates character; and character creates hope. Paul boasts about the Thessalonians faith and perseverance.

There are few instances in the Bible that would qualify as revival and even fewer, if any, that would qualify under today's understanding. Instead, Paul often teaches about persevering through trials, revelling in God's grace through day to day challenges, and being strong through weakness. In James he teaches perseverance makes you mature and complete. Maturity desires perseverance. So what does immaturity desire?

2 comments:

Daddio said...

Revival - in actuality is the reigniting of life. Bringing back to life what has been waning. So revival is for believers. People who fell in love with God, and then the relationship became "ho-hum". It's us re-realizing how big God is and how small we are. It's a work of God to wake us up. Do I want to be woken up? You bet. More and more.

It's true though, that we want the easy way. We would rather that God did something "big" than for us to learn to control the sinful nature. We would like God to do something to us so that we would no longer have to work at being his follower - so it would come naturally - easily. We would like that, but that's a desire for another time, when the flesh is completely subdued and defeated. Now? now is the time to fight. Now is the time to struggle against the flesh and learn to let God work in us so that the old nature does not have a foothold in our lives. Now is not the time for easy, it is the time for battling, losing, not giving up, getting back in the battle, and learning to let God empower us to win.

God's grace is sufficient to give us that victory.

Eric said...

Yeah, I know what revival is - I just am curious more about what we THINK revival is. If we all believed revival was simply a drawing closer to Christ than we would have more intimate revivals and maybe more revivals... or maybe less if people realized it wasn't so glamorous.