Monday, April 5, 2010

Revival

The word "revival" in my mind sparks all sorts of craziness. In the denomination which I was raised, "revival" meant long nights on the church floor in tearful prayer, hours of limb trembling, soul soaring worship... It meant speaking in tongues & being slain in the spirit, it meant running laps around the church & "praising Jesus", it meant howling like an animal & laughing so hard you literally rolled around on the floor. It meant stumbling out of the church after all that like a drunk, full of exceeding "joy". "Revival" always seemed to culminate in having some grand outreach on the city square or college campus... Bible studies & worship nights abounded...

To me, "revival" meant hoopla & a momentary rush that quickly faded away. It never really touched me for whatever reason. I chalked it up to my own spiritual defectiveness & sin. But then I compared the percentages of lives that seemed truly changed with the number who experienced some grand emotional manifestation. And that's when I walked away from my denomination, from church altogether in fact. The numbers just didn't add up. This kind of "Revival" never lasted long. My former pastor & his team always talked of "acquiring the fire" & taking it to this place or that... Apparently, he imported our "fire" from Argentina, Toronto, Brownsville... I can't help but wonder why he had to go anywhere else to "get the fire". We had the same God afterall... or did we?

Its my opinion that people are so hungry- so sensory- that when something comes along to pique their interest, they start grabbing at it like children after candy. Out goes Biblical truth, out goes humility & submission to Christ, out goes the appeal of Paul for orderly gatherings that are respectful to one another & to God... We dig into the gifts of the spirit with fervor & forget all about who they come from & why we were given them... So often I've seen gifts (and I do believe in the gifts!) become our god... We begin in our own ways to worship these things- to worship prayer, to worship the feelings we feel during worship, to worship the sensory manifestations of gathering together in the name of something- some ONE more powerful than ourselves. But we deceive ourselves... and the gifts take hold & demand more of us than God requires. All good gifts come from God, but even good gifts can be wrecked by human hands... Think Adam & Eve, Gideon, King Hezekiah, David & Bathsheeba... the list could go on & on.

My heart has always longed for something more- though I dare not classify it as "revival". Revival smacks of eccentricity, of camp meetings, of extraordinary circumstances involving large crowds & even larger productions. Perhaps I could better identify this "something" as a resurrection of sorts. My heart longs for the resurrection that Jesus promised us- this "being raised to life" with Him... I'm not talking about the final day when he raises His people from the dead. I'm talking about daily resurrection. He calls us to take up our cross & follow Him... daily. What does that mean? It means we not only follow Him into death daily, but also into resurrected life. Our goal is to glorify God, not each other, not our emotional sensations, not our spiritual prowess, not our gifts. Our goal is to love one another & spur each other on in Christ.

How are we dying today? Have we been raised to life? Because that's revival- dying & living & leaving the tomb... walking the road together, eating & working & praying together... daily. It might not be what we were expecting... but then maybe we should be asking ourselves what we were expecting in the first place- Was it ever what God had in mind for us?

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