With COVID, the mess with the election, coupled with cities burning, have many asking, “where is God?” Is He is still on His throne and in control of the universe, including the United States of America? Where is the church? Most are closed or on-line. Where are the Christians? Most are experiencing high anxiety, fearful that they or a loved one will get sick, and hoping things to get back to normal. What is the answer? Some think we need a nation-wide revival or a speedy return of Jesus.
What does revival mean? Revival is the noun form of the verb “revive,” a derivation of the Latin re-vivere, meaning “to live again” or “to return or to restore to consciousness or life.” Revival can also be “the restoration of something to its true nature and purpose.” Before COVID, the church was in trouble. Few churches fail to see the gospel of Jesus as their primary focus. Many have turned to a social justice “gospel” or Progressive Christianity that does not embrace original sin and the atonement through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
The fall-out has been horrific. Up to 80% of young men and women, who identify as Christian, walk away from their faith before graduating from college. Statistics tell us that the fault rests with the churches who have not built Christian worldviews into their minds and hearts. The vast majority of these students grew up attending church, but were not true believers.
Historically, in the United States, the First Great Awakening in the 1730s and 1740s was very successful in turning the church’s focus to Christ centered preaching and evangelism. There were massive revivals through Dr. Billy Graham, who impacted our culture through thousands of people coming to Christ. Unlike many large Christian events, his organization made sure that there were follow-up studies for those who trusted in Christ as their Lord and Savior.
We have a desperate need for revival, not in stadiums or in giant tents. We need revival with those who claim to be Christians but do not live it out at home, with friends, or at work. A verbal prayer repeated with no life change, no obedience or reverence to Christ, is not close to what being Christian is all about. The revival we desperately need is a personal return to Jesus. Yes, I am talking about massive numbers of people who sit in church or watch on-line week after week, but beyond that, have no time for God.
God calls each believer to a personal spiritual awakening resulting in repenting of sins and seeking to live no longer for self but for God. For many of us, now is the time to access where we are in our faith. Are we meeting with God daily to read His word and plan for the day? Do those in our family, friends, enemies, and those at work see us as a man or woman that is consistently kind, loving, forgiving, and humble? Would Christians recognize you as a follower of Jesus by your behavior?
“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember, therefore, from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place, unless you repent” (Revelation 2:4–5).
“Once there was a man who went out to sow grain. As he scattered the seed in the field, some of it fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some of it fell on rocky ground, where there was little soil. The seeds soon sprouted, because the soil wasn’t deep” (Matthew 13:3-5).
Real, personal revival focuses on what Jesus Christ did for you on the cross. It can be messy and complicated as it is joyful and energizing. When a believer who has fallen away from their faith and confesses their sins, the Holy Spirit comes alive in them! Heart change comes through the process of dying to ourselves, and living intentionally to glorify God in all of life. This process gives hope to the back-sliders because God celebrates a Christian who realizes that they have sinned by walking away from their faith, and then confesses, and repents!
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and there is no truth in us. But if we confess our sins to God, he will keep his promise and do what is right: he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing. If we say that we have not sinned, we make a liar out of God, and his word is not in us” (1John 1:8-10).
“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:8-10).
Choose this day whom you will serve!