Before you turn me off, hear me out.
This is a call to the conscience of the church of America. Our nation is spiraling out of control and is in need of a kind of change that goes deeper than a temporary experience, lively church meetings, or even miracles. Remember that the same people who received the miracles of Jesus crucified Him.
I believe in miracles. I need miracles. I'm praying for miracles. But that is not the end goal. I have seen what we call "revival," and it has not lasted. I have seen miracles, and most people go back to their lethargy. I have experienced revival and still wake up in need of something deeper.
Hang in here with me. I'm going to answer the question of what America really needs, and what you and I really need. I am not against revival. I challenge your thinking, however, on what you think that means and if it is really the answer that God has given us.
I am a Christian. I come from the particular Christian culture that is always saying, “America needs a revival!” “Pray for revival!” Hey, I've said it many times myself. The problem is that what most people mean by that (at least in my circles) is a blowout spiritual atmosphere in a church service or series of church services that allow people to experience the power of God in a way that overwhelms us and makes the hair stand up on the back of our necks.
What is revival, really?
It is an Old Testament word that does not appear in the New Testament at all. It is mentioned in the Psalms a lot. But the scripture that I would like to show you is Hosea 6:2. It says...
"After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight."
There are two words in that verse are the exact same Hebrew word, but used in a different context, and therefore different English words, within the same verse. The word revive and the word live are both the Hebrew word “chayah.” The first time it is used (revive), it means "to revive, restore, or refresh". The second time the same word in a different context (live) means "to live, have life, continue in and sustain life." The first is revival. The second - to use a word not in the dictionary is "vival." In other words, this revival the prophet Hosea speaks of is one, when it comes, that will lead to a way of life that will produce a continuing, sustainable life. There is no need for another revival.
This is a foreshadowing from Hosea of something that would come after his time. We know now that he was prophesying the coming of Christ and the life that He would give us. Jesus, on the third day, would "revive" us, bring us back to life, resurrect us from the dead. The cross, the resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Spirit was the time in history that God planned for the revival. One revival, one visitation has been given to us for all time.
That revival (chayah) came "that we may 'live' (chayah) in His sight." In other words, what Jesus gave you through the cross, resurrection, and Pentecost is a life that is to be lived to the fullest every day. If revival becomes an event that we wait for, a movement that only God can instigate, we have missed the boat altogether.
In fact, this thinking may be the very reason that our nation is in the condition that it’s in right now. It's like waiting for God to do something before He will do something… when He has already done it.
The revival Christ gave us over 2000 years ago was given as a sustainable, continuation of that same life. You were not given something that dies and lives, dies and lives. I know we are talking about semantics and you may argue with me on my terminology, but don't miss my point:
There are many people in my circles who are waiting for God to do something that He has already done.
They are praying for God to finally allow for another revival in their church or nation, by His providence and timing, in order to restore us to something we used to be. What they are really praying for is something that they will hear about, go and observe, and then go home and celebrate. They are not praying for this to be something that radically changes their own life.
And while we pray in waiting, our nation is falling apart. We stand by and watch, all the time disappointed in God for not showing up. Has God not shown up in the believer's life already? Has He not already given you the grace to access His love, power, and goodness? Has He not already given you the charge and responsibility to walk in repentance and change the world? If our country is falling, are we going to sit here and blame it on God's will and timing?
Jesus said, "Go and make disciples"! When we obey that call, has He not already given us the power and grace to do it effectively. Am I waiting for God to revive me before I win someone to Christ? Am I waiting on God to revive me before I grow into a mature believer. Am I waiting on God to revive me to love my family or serve my community. Am I waiting on God to revive me before I go and make disciples.
I'm sorry, but this does not make sense to the New Testament Church. That church thrived when the pressure was on. That church did not pray for revival - they lived it every day. They were walking, talking, Spirit-filled revivals wherever they went and whatever they did. The culture, the circumstances, the condition of the nation, had no bearing on who they were or what they did.
Don't get me wrong… I need one level of revival every day when I get out of bed. I don't wake up ready to take on the world. But what I have been given by God since day one is the continual power of His grace to walk in that original revival immediately. So I don't have to wait for it. I have to go get it. I know what to do, so that by the time I leave the house each day, I am revived!
Someone said, "If you want to start a revival, go home, lock yourself in your room, kneel down in the middle of your floor. Draw a chalk mark all around yourself, and ask God to start the revival inside that chalk mark. When He has answered your prayer, the revival will be on."
I know there are seasons of refreshing and revival in our lives. But these are not withheld from us for special occasions. They come with the territory. Peter told us in his second sermon in Acts 3:19, "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord..." There it is. The presence of the Lord brings refreshing. I have access to His presence 24/7. …What am I waiting for?
How can God improve on the cross, the resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit? The access we have right now to all that God has for us by His grace is all we need to change the world. He told us to go and do it. What are we waiting for? To wait for a movement before we move is disobedience to God. It is our movement that perpetuates His original movement.
Watching our nation fall by the wayside while waiting for "revival" seems to be a good plan from hell to de-motivate God's people from fulfilling the purpose we’ve already been anointed to fulfill.
Actually, revival is not the end goal. The goal is a living demonstration (witness) of Christ on the earth in every community, city and nation (Acts 1:8). If what we are calling revival produces that, then I'm in. But many revivals, at least what we call revivals, do not. They crash and burn. The leader crashes and burns. There is no repentance, simply excitement for a season.
Where is the thriving, sustaining work of God in our world? Ask yourself the following: 1) Does my community have evidence of an alive people of God perpetually shining the light of God's presence and goodness? 2). Are the majority of believers in a community gathering regularly for prayer, worship, ministry to one another and acting on strategy to reach their community for Christ? 3). Are people coming to Christ regularly, being assimilated into the fellowship of the Body of Christ, and carefully discipled to grow as a believer? And 4). Is the community in which this is happening changing for the better? Are there signs of less crime or more employment? Are answers being discovered to solve community problems? Is the impact of sin lessening and of righteousness growing?
If what you are calling revival produces the above, then I'm all for it. If it is the real deal, then it is happening outside of the four walls of the church building.
Don't be that person who is waiting for something to get excited about before you do anything. Shake off your lethargy and walk in the perpetual revival you already have. If America is not changed, it will be because we did not take the first and permanent revival - the one with an empty tomb - seriously enough to fulfill the plan of God to change the world.
You belong to a kingdom that is alive in you and in the other believers in your life. Get together with them and pray for action, then take action on your prayer.
God's plan is to change the world and to do it through you! Don't miss it!
Let's change the world together!