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The place of Revival

Photo courtesy of markuso
I was just reading some posts on the Charismatica blog on revival in the marketplace and they really sparked my curiosity. The point that is made is that, historically, revival has broken out in various places outside of the Church proper. That is not to say that Holy Spirit revival has come through avenues that are outside of the household of God, but that it has occurred outside the church building. My question is this; are we looking around aimlessly within when we should be fixing our gaze without? That is, do we wrongly assume that God will send a revival in a way that fits into our preconceived notion about it? What these posts from Charismatica hint at is the question, if God sent revival in the marketplace, or the home, or academia, would we embrace it? Let me continue with an example. All over the country there are powerful youth rallies and conferences that see masses of young people set on fire for the Lord. When I was a youth pastor at a United Methodist Church we took our youth to an event called "SpiritUS" that is held every year at Camp Caswell, NC. For two weekends 1000 youth and leaders invaded this camp and in turn the Holy Spirit invaded many of them. The same thing can be seen in events held by Student Life and other ministries. My question is this; when these revived youth re-enter the church is their passion embraced by the church? Perhaps it is better asked; is it carried over into the larger fellowship? Sadly, in many cases I believe the answer is, no.

It seems that when certain demographics within the Body of Christ experience revival or renewal it is restricted to that particular group. For instance, we hear of "lay revivals" or "student revivals" or "evangelical revivals." Why do these not turn into Church revivals? I believe there are at least two answers to this question:

1. First and foremost, it may be that it is God's will that these revivals only occur within certain groups for a specific purpose. I am more than willing to concede this point because God is sovereign and His plan is far better than mine. Indeed, who can fathom the ways and will of God? "Not I" said the pig. While it may seem strange or contrary to the ideas we have about God's plan, it is none the less His plan and we/I must trust in it.

2. We don't understand that we must choose to be a part of God's revival. This is one of my primary points in much of what I believe and preach about revival. God is a God of choices. Look at Deuteronomy 30:15-16, 19: , See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it...I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants." God put these choices before us. He puts revival out there as an option but we must choose it, we must decide that we want to take part in what God is doing in the world. His will is that there would be a vibrant Church and that people would come to know Him but He doesn't force it. That is His permissive will and it shows His love for us.

Now, it must be stated that everything that looks like revival and smells like revival is not always so. "Beggin' Strips" may look and smell like bacon but they aren't bacon. We must be careful not to jump on board with something just because it has the appearance of revival. The problem is, all to often we don't get on board with things that are genuine. We couch our choice in phony discernment. That is, we say "well I don't want to be a part of it because I'm not really sure it is real revival." That's a great place to start but when we use that excuse to hide the fact that we don't want to do the hard things that God asks of us we are deceiving ourselves. Think about the time when Gideon tested God with the fleece. He already knew what God was asking of him, he was just scared to do it. Let us not fall into the same trap.

So, the question still stands; if God sends revival somewhere outside the traditional forms will we embrace it? There is no telling where the Holy Spirit will decide to break out and we would be wise to be on the lookout for it in various places.



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