Photo Credit: Natasha Panagiotopoulou
Have you heard people throw around the word “revival”? It seems like an old word not worth throwing around. Something that happened in Acts 2 and a few other times in history. But it’s a fad that’s long gone. Revival, in essence, is a powerful movement of the Holy Spirit. There was the Wesley revival over a hundred years ago. In my small community there was a revival in the 1970’s. Other than that, I haven’t experienced or heard of revivals nearby. Revival is seems more usual or timely outside the United States. Here, not so much. Why is that?
We know a ton of stuff. And with Television crowding the hard drives of our minds as well as the Internet serving up the latest survey, study, or next great thing, we’re literally avalanched with information. The Lord’s prayer says, “give us this day our daily bread”. But God doesn’t provide our bread. Our eduction combined with our vocations do, right? We already know how to survive without Him. We’ve learned how to. Our knowledge is an asset and it can be a barrier. This summer while in Africa, one of the organizations we visited was Empowering Lives International. ELI has a specific ministry to people in small villages. What they do is offer classes to people on how they can use what they have to make money, grow food, and live a more healthy, balanced life. These people don’t have the knowledge of basic farming or subsistence living. They don’t have knowledge to rely on. ELI helps empower them. The apostle Paul wrote, “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” I’d submit that we “first-worlders” could be a bit puffy.
We’ve heard the saying “power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Our affluence has corrupted us. Let’s face it: we don’t need God. Think about it. What do we need him for? Who controls our lives? We do. We’re in charge. Our lives are comfortable already. We’re the richest nation ever in the history or history. We have more comfort than anyone in the world. We live like kings in the World’s economy. Less than 5% of the World’s population have two cars. How many cars do you have? I have two – and a motorcycle. I have a home with heat, air conditioning, a stove, microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator, hot water heater, water softener, high-speed Internet, three computers, two iPads, two iPhones, Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV, Roku, and….wait for it…an in-ground pool in my back yard. Both my wife and I have Master’s degrees. We both have great jobs. We have disposable income. I’m wearing a pair of $80 shoes. What the heck do I need God for? I’m doing pretty well here, thank you very much. So the hard question for you: What’s your list?
Seriously, make one.
The average family lives on $1/day. Regardless of where we are on the poverty scale in the US, we live like kings. Our basic necessities are covered. Our government provides us a basic safety and security. Even in my early years of church planting, we received government assistance to meet our needs. There is no need for daily bread. We’ve got it covered. Please keep in mind that I understand there are needy people all over the world, in the US and in my back yard. I understand this. But chances are that if your’re reading this, you’re probably not in that camp.
Our education combined with our affluence leads us to a subtle arrogance that sometimes doesn’t show up on our radar. They’re choices we make every day. In election years, it’s easy to look at the “have nots” and say they need to figure things out on their own. But the Bible says we’re supposed to look after them. How arrogant of us to write them off. The Bible talks about giving, tithing, and trusting God with our finances. The latest stats from Barna say that less than 5% of born again believers tithe. The average regular attender gives about 2.5%. So let me get this straight: We’re the most affluent and educated people in the history or history. And we’re also the stingiest. Am I wrong? Does that statement make you feel uncomfortable?
Fact check your spending.
Take emotion out of it. Just look at your spending patterns. It could/should speak for itself. I’d suggest it’s pretty arrogant to say to God we need him, but we don’t live like it. If we can’t trust Him with our money, how can we expect to trust Him with our lives, our families, our eternity? Our arrogance is in our independence. We say we love God. We want to. But we’re far from needing Him. We’ve eliminated Him from the equation and created our own version of heaven here.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. Matthew 23:27
Come, Lord Jesus
I’ve never seen revival. I’ve read about it. What I understand about revival is that it starts with humility, confession, and reconciliation. When our hearts are softened, that’s when the Father can do the work. That’s when the Holy Spirit comes in power. That’s when we can say to our kids and grandkids that we were part of a revival. It will never happen when we are proud, arrogant, and non-repentant. Until we realize that we’re the whitewashed tombs, that we’re wounded, that we’re not okay, that we’re sinners, we will never experience the true power of the Holy Spirit. Until we unlearn a bunch of stuff we’ve learned and begin to ask the question, “What does it mean to live Biblically?” will we truly be free. Until we embrace our wounds and bring our sin into the light will we ever be healed. How dumb would it be for me to go to a doctor, get diagnosed with a malignant tumor which could be treated, removed and I could be fully restored, but I choose to not treat it or tell anyone. I’ll ignore it. Not address it. You’d call me an idiot. How much more for us to not address our spiritual poverty and embrace it with humility and brokenness?
I’m writing this to myself as much as to anyone who would read and listen to the heart behind the words. Ask yourself if you’re a whitewashed tomb like me. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to break out of the mold of American Christianity. It’s going to be messy. Unsafe. Hard. But I can’t hack this stifling church-going, step ford-wives existence any longer. Humility, brokenness, exposing woundedness, vulnerability, and repentance are the keys. Not strategic plans, fundraising campaigns and reading ore books. It feels like a daunting task in my culture for people to actually get there. I’m sure glad the Holy Spirit is sovereign over us and desires with His whole heart to move.