Revive Us, O Lord

Apparently I sparked a few questions yesterday with my comments about revival.  I said that I don’t believe in intra-church revival, and it totally threw a few people for a loop.  So I thought I’d better clarify things a little bit.  Just in case there were a few more questions than those that came my way.

Revival according to the ‘c’hurch is a *jumpstart* to get people back on fire for the Lord.  Some churches have a week-long revival once a year, some churches have traveling ‘revival’ preachers show up and bring the big tent and make a public event out of it… then there are other churches that are in perpetual ‘revival’.  Bring us closer to you, Lord!  Rekindle our Fire!  And I’m sure that sounds really good to a lot of people.  But I *hate* this.  And I’m not sure I can make it clear why, but I’ll durn sure try

When a person is ‘saved’, what they do is commit themselves – their strength, mind, heart, and soul – to the Lord Jesus Christ.  They choose to walk as He walked and grow in the Knowledge of Him.  If you’re truly doing that, the Spirit will work in your life.  But a commitment to do something – anything! – isn’t passive.  It’s hard work.  I committed to a list of things I aspired to do this year.  It’s not about saying “I’ve a resolution”… it’s about doing what it takes to keep your commitment.  I’ve aspired to lose weight, for one.  Now will aspiring to do so (in itself) result in my losing weight?  No.  I have to drink more water, do more excersize, etc. in order to fulfill my commitment.  Salvation is the same thing – it’s a walk, it’s not a certificate.  You don’t hold up a prayer and say ‘See?  I prayed it, I’m going to Heaven.  I’m done.’  That’s not how it works.  A commitment involves far more than lip service.  So if a person is ‘saved’, they are striving towards the mark, fighting the good fight, running the race.  And all that jazz.

Now if revival is a ‘jumpstart’ for people who aren’t actively committed to the Lord, are they really saved?  No – “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:17).  I am ALL FOR evangelism of the lost and mission work for the unsaved, but let’s call a spade a spade.  It’s not revival, it’s outreach.  And I have NOTHING against that.

But what I’ve noticed in my 32 years of church-going is that revival has become a sort of drug high.  “Man, I just need something to get me going, man.  I just need to feel that high, get that zing back.”  And so they dope up on ‘revival’, go ‘gung ho’… and then ride the high out until the buzz is gone, and they’re left exactly where they were before… which is why revival becomes a repetitive thing.  Gotta chase that buzz, gotta find that high.  It’s not what Christianity was meant to be.  It’s not a slump-revival-slump-revival-slump-revival kind of thing.  That’s not growth.  It’s pathetic.  Our walk with God isn’t supposed to look like a rollercoaster, but a steady incline.  KWIM?

When we went to GCC, the whole drive behind the chuch was a constant quest for the next high.  PDL was a HUGE vehicle for this – it will change your life, re-kindle your faith… you’ve heard the buzz phrases.  Our church had 20 conversions and 170-plus rededications.  So many that they decided to do the 40 days of Purpose again.  And they were on round three when I left… because we gotta find our purpose in Christ, re-kindle our fervor, change our lives… again, and again, and again… after the buzz wears off.  They use revival as gasoline, but the fire doesn’t have good tinder, logs or kindling… and it can’t stay lit without the use of starter fluid.  And is lighter fluid fire a real fire?  Is a faith built on shifting sand a real faith?

I see modern ‘revival’ as the application of those heart attack paddles.  Have you ever seen that on TV?  Someone’s flatlining (aka kicked the bucket), and they whip out these two funky paddles and tap them together and press them to the body, and it jumps two feet off the table and the person REVIVES!!  Only thing is, you have to have a dead body for that to work… and if that person is ‘dead’ in Christ, they didn’t have a true conversion in the first place.  Worse, if you’re charging the hell out of a person ‘alive’ in Christ, you’re doing damage in urging them to look for a ‘zing’.  Christ isn’t about the ‘zing’.  Back to the drug high illustration, it’s like the church taking healthy Christ-followers and injecting them with something they don’t need… and that just leads to needless addiction to something that isn’t even part of sound doctrine.

I don’t know of a single instance of revival in the Bible.  Oh, you might point to Pentecost, but Pentecost wasn’t revival.  It was the initial indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  That’s not what revival is at all.  You might point to Mars Hill and the 5000+ saved there.  But that wasn’t revival – that was missions and evangelism – those people weren’t saved to begin with, and they needed Christ.  Revival is a contrived crutch the church uses to prop itself up and look good, instead of accepting that there’s a fundamental problem that need to be addressed and corrected for a true and sincere walk in Christ.  And I realize that might tick some people off, but think about it.

Do we really need revival?  Or do we really need consistency in our walk?

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