Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Day 1 at the National Conversation on Revival: Encountering Christ.

Photo courtesy of barbara v
Today was the first of two days I will spend at the Moody Church attending the National Conversation on Revival. It would be impossible for me to give all the details in one post and I'm pretty sure I will end up writing a series of posts about some of the things addressed at this conference. The group that put this conversation together is the National Revival Network. In short, this is a group of ministers and leaders from denominations across the evangelical landscape that yearn for and have a heart for real revival in America. This movement, we'll call it, began in 2002 with the constructing of An Urgent Appeal (click to read the entire document) which is a kind of thesis on what revival is and how it happens. The theme for this particular gathering is "The Church Alive to the Glory of Christ." The underlying belief is that Christ, and His supremacy, must be at the very center of revival or renewal.

The first thing I would like to share about this conference was actually one of the first things that was addressed this morning. Naturally, I can only speak on my own behalf but something had a profound impact on me this morning as we began our conversation. David Bryant, one of the leaders of the National Revival Network, spoke on the topic of "A Christ Awakening: The Hallmark of True Revival." His overall message was that having an encounter with the living Christ is a necessity for revival. This may seem like a "duh" statement but bear with me. As he closed his message he asked us all to, literally, get on our faces before God, on the floor. Once we were all prostrate before the Lord he read the first seventeen and a half verses of Revelation 1. The focal point of this passage was verse 12-17a;

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man.

After reading this passage he stopped and there were three full minutes of silence. During this time I took the opportunity to imagine in my own mind this vision of Christ that John saw. Two things struck me. 1) John did the very best he could to describe the indescribable. I tried with all my mental might to envision the sun in all its radiance. Then I tried to see in my mind's eye the feet that shown like bronze and the hair and robe that were brilliantly white. I did this knowing that my feeble mental image was nothing compared to the reality of the glory of the risen Christ. 2) This was not the Jesus that John knew on earth. He was no longer the meek and lowly son of a carpenter. He was the glorified King of Kings and Lord of Lords. John finally was seeing Him for who He really was.

As the tears began to well up in my eyes over this small encounter with Christ I could only repeat over and over the words of Thomas in John 20:28;

My Lord, my God.

After the three minutes were over, and I was beginning to wish they never would end, Bryant read the rest of verse 17 and 18;

And He placed His right hand on me, saying, "Do not be afraid, I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades."

As I rose to my feet we began to sing Angus Dei and at the realization of who I am in comparison to who He is my words turned to those of Isaiah in Isaiah 6:5;

Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips.

Soon the room was filled with the passionate singing of these words;

Holy, Holy, are you Lord God Almighty.
Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb
You are Holy

The worship was deep and real. I believe that more than one person had caught just a glimpse of our Lord Jesus Christ. Even that brief moment of reflection had led to a new understanding of how holy and righteous Christ is. I, for one, was almost too overcome to continue singing but as I pressed on through the tears I began to feel the pure worship that comes after meeting Christ. It was as if there were no one else in the room and I was singing these words to Christ alone. In that moment I felt I had tasted, if only a bit, the beauty of praising our God in eternity and not just some divine being that I was thankful to for the blessings, but a God who I am in desperate awe of.

If we want to see revival come to our congregation, communities and land it must begin with an encounter with the risen Christ. This encounter will ultimately lead to joy because of those words from Revelation 1:17-18, but we cannot forget that it will lead somewhere else first. The Apostle Paul was knocked to the ground by the risen Christ. Isaiah fell to his face after the realization of his state before an almighty and perfect God. John found himself prostrate before Christ when he saw Him in all His glory.

Revival is not about greater numbers in our meetings. It is not about some emotional extraveganza. It is about one thing...one Person, Jesus Christ. To get there we must see Him for who He is, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, glorified by the Father and reigning forever at His right hand.

I really wish this experience was reproducible but I'm not sure it is. The Spirit moves when the Spirit wills and upon whom He wills. I do know this, it is worth a shot. We can never encounter Him too much and I pray that we will never become used to His presence. I was humbled this morning in our meeting with Christ and I pray that you will find a time and a place to be humbled by Him as well. No matter what we do, or what programs we concoct, encountering Christ, the risen and reigning Christ, will always be a necessity.

Godspeed,
Christian

2 comments:

Sherry said...

Inspired by your post, Christian. May we yearn for real revival that only comes from an encounter with our Holy God.

Christian R. Herring said...

Amen Sherry. I just wish everyone could have been there for that 3 minute revival. It really showed me how crucial coming face to face with Christ is for it.