I live in a very religious town. There’s a church building on almost every corner. After all these years the local church is still the best place to make business contacts, socialize and get your weekly dose of spirituality.
I used to drive around town when I was younger and like clockwork, every Fall, you’d see them. They were nailed on every telephone pole, some hand-written on poster board, some professionally printed. They were taped in the window at the local convenience store. They were on top of every gas pump. If you left your car in a parking lot for too long, one would be under your windshield. Announcements were made on the radio and printed in the newspaper. You knew what time of year it was. Get the word out because…
It was Revival time!
Now, from an outsider’s view, this is what I thought Revival was (I’m being serious):
A Christian celeb speaker. Usually he was a denominational big wheel or if your church paid enough, possibly the pastor of a larger church, seminary professor, or someone with a “gimmick” (I have presonally witnessed a “cowboy preacher” and a “truck drivin’ preacher”). In any event, the speaker is someone who’ll attract a crowd and word has it he may know God more intimately than the rest of us.
Jam up music. Or “special music” as most would call it. To accompany the guest speaker, there’d have to be music that was better than the usual stuff at your church.
Good food. Can’t have a revival on an empty stomach, can you?
As I said, I am serious that for years I believed Revival was something that happened every Spring and Fall and it contained the three elements mentioned above. I was certain that somewhere on the holy pages these three things were prescribed by God in order to have revival.
And what happened at Revival? Fiery preaching, that’s for sure, usually on 2 Chronicles 7:14, the Book of Jonah, Ezekial’s dry bones vision and Pentecost. And the music would be inpsiring, definitely more inspiring than the usual Sunday choir. People would actually clap. Some of them. And you’d definitely get your fill of free food. Man, those church hot dogs were much better than the ones my Momma made at home. Decisions for Jesus would be made, usually from the Youth Group. There’d be a noticeblae buzz in the air.
Then would come Monday. Everything would be as it was on the previous Monday.
Where was Revival?
As much as I’ve read on genuine God-initiated revival, I believe it’s hard to hang a defining definition on it. We know the Holy Spirit comes and reawakens God’s people and puts their butts in gear. Elements of genuine revival (in my opinon) are (and I’m going to condense it to three bite-size points because I have to get to work):
The word of God is taken seriously. I know that may sound overly simplistic, but that’s exactly what happens. Believers get into spiritaul ruts when we abandon The Word — personally AND corporately. Then, what flows out of that “meh” attitude towards God’s word is the same apithetic attitude towards evangelism, prayer, sin and sound doctrine, indeed, every area of our lives.
We need something to set our minds and hearts right.
That something is Someone, namely, the Spirit of God. I don’t think special music and good hot dogs can conjure him up. Theolgically, we all know the Holy Spirit indwells each of us if we know Jesus. He stays with us, seals us and keeps us. He doesn’t go anywhere. He doesn’t leave us. But, perhaps our apithetic “blah” attitude towards God and that wrong attitude’s outworking stifles his manisfestation in our lives. It’s called “grieving the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 4:30, see also Eph. ch. 4 and 5). Grieving the Holy Spirit is caused by and consequently leads to all types of messed up behavior: following false doctrine, bad relationships with God and man, overall bad attitudes and much more.
Jesus becomes personal. Again, we know that, biblically speaking, to know Jesus at all is to know him personally. But, if we’ve not held him up in our lives and churches, he’s just another religious thing to have to deal with. The once fiery and exultant relationship we had with him becomes a cool, stale stand-off from across the room. If we want revival Jesus MUST be exalted. Preaching and talking about revival isn’t revival… It’s preaching and talking about revival.
Preaching and talking about Jesus is another thing. How about living for Jesus, or better yet, letting him live through us? When Jesus becomes personal to us, he will become personal to those who don’t know him. That’s a biblical fact. He promised, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to me” (John 12:32).
If we wrap our minds and hearts around these things in prayer, fasting (gasp!), and reminding each other, I can see great things happening.
We can see a Revival!