A few weeks ago I read a really thought provoking post by my friend Geoff Heeg called -> Revival Please* So thought provoking that while I read it I could feel a blog post coming on. And here it is.
Revival. That word is kind of loaded. In it’s neutral form it simply means someone who has been revived. Were dead. Now alive.
In it’s controversial form it’s the pursuit of the religious fanatic – “give me some of that ol’ time revival” which is too often – sadly – really saying, “I want to be scintillated emotionally and spiritually by displays of wonder and power that will shock others into the particular brand of faith that I follow.”
In other words…
…Something started by someone really cool!
Something started by a person who’s particularly good at getting me hyped up about what God wants to do for me. If this person is really good with the spiritual vocabulary and does some cool things then I can feel a revival coming on.
…Something that makes me feel good.
Revival will give me the spiritual willy-nillies or it’s not really revival. The more hyped up, emotionally charged and awesome cool things that I experience – the better a revival it is. Oh, and when I go to a revival I better leave feeling better or it ain’t a revival. Which brings me to the next point.
… Something I go to.
Everyone knows that revival happens at certain places where God “breaks out” and “shows up” right? I mean everytime we describe a revival we’re talking about the place where it happened or is happening. We even give it labels that begin with a place name when describing it.
Do the above points sound kind of off? They should. they are pretty representative of some of the comments I have heard when people have described revival. Here’s a novel thought:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! — Paul (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)
Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins….But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much,5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. –Paul (Ephesians 2:1,4-7 NLT)
These scriptures tell me that revival is very simply nothing less than transformation! It exists when people are changed because they’ve met Jesus! It is when those who were dead are given life! THAT is revival.
Revival is NOT driven by human personality! It brings people to the person of Jesus Christ. When people meet Jesus they are forever changed. Things start happening when people are changed.
It’s not marked by feeling good. Sometimes revival will bring pain! You can’t have change without some pain involved. When sin is confronted, when sin is exposed, when the Holy Spirit convicts, when the truth of God is preached and even more lived there ARE going to be some uncomfortable moments. Somehow there is a segment of “christianity” in the world today that equates revival with painlessness, and euphoria. Certainly, true revival will bring joy and excitement – after all the change that Jesus brings is life-bringing. But I wonder if we see so little of true revival today because there are churches that don’t want to get uncomfortable, who don’t want the messiness of those who are far from Jesus coming to him, who don’t want the pain and effort it takes to move as agents of life among the dead. I wonder if its because the people in our churches don’t want the way we “do” church to be affected because that means our discomfort. It’s okay if God shows up as long as its in a way that we can predict and plan for.
Read this carefully, Revival is NOT marked by feeling good! We don’t pursue revival for the feelings it brings – we pursue revival because of the change it produces. And THAT only happens when we pursue, preach and live Christ who is the one who brings change.
Finally, revival isn’t dependent on your where you are or where you go to! It’s not about your physical location, it’s about your spiritual position. True revival happens when people meet Jesus and are transformed from death to life. True revival happens when you are lifted up from being a mere “son of Adam” to adoption as a child of the King. When people embrace Christ and His life is at work through them THEN you see revival. And this is NOT location based. True revival will not be confined to the four walls of a building. It impacts the community the church of Christ is in. It impacts families, it impacts workplaces, it impacts the rhythm of life that the world is used to. When there is real revival, newspapers won’t be reporting on the strange going ons at such and such church. The reports will be about the unexplainable drop in crime rates, the strange miracles happening in the hospitals, the unbelievable drop in divorce rates, and the remarkable generosity happening.
I cringe when I see churches advertising a ‘revival event’ or ‘revival camp meeting’. Please, please you can’t label a place or an event as a revival! Especially if you know this event or camp meeting is targeting those who are supposed to already be revived!!!
Revival is when the dead become alive. Nothing more, nothing less.