let us pray for Revival
in our Church and in our Land
A revival of religion is where people are awakened through God’s presence to matters of substance & eternity and the things of this world fade towards the level of their real importance (ie, important, but minor in comparison with God and eternal & spiritual matters). Revivals rejuvenate the church and transform the community. Existing Christians become more joyful and alive, ordinary people change and become new Christians, and in this-world-ly terms Christian values become more widely held and our country becomes a much better place to live.
I’ve recently been reading about a revival in the Highlands of Scotland around 1800. Nothing particularly spectacular, no signs and wonders, no great emotion, but a marked change from:
“ignorance and indifference and dis-relish of divine things”
to “knowledge and concern and spiritual enjoyment.”
It’s been God’s practice throughout history to have seasons of revival. Notable have been the Welsh revival of 1904 or the more general 1859 revival (150 years ago). However, if you pick any name from Church History if you look into their life and circumstances, I think you will find the presence of the Holy Spirit and His transforming power – a few examples would be Hudson Taylor, DL Moody, Wesley and Whitefield or the Reformers, Luther and Calvin (born 500 years ago in 1509), but why not look for yourself, take anyone. Church History is simply a record of God’s dealing with man; ie, a history of revival!
And what God’s done in the past – why not today ?!!
The question I think is whether we want revival! Are we too comfortable in our worldly lives that we don’t want God to interfere? Are we closing our ears to what God may already be saying to us? It is revealing to consider our desire (or lack of it) for the Bible and for prayer and also whether we would wish this desire to be greater or more aflame. Are we attracted to God, are we interested in what He says and what He’s written? The bottom line is do we want more of God ?
If we don’t want more of God in our lives; if we don’t want God to be relevant and to make a difference to our lives, to be a major part of our lives, then He won’t! He won’t be important or a priority for us and if not, why on earth should other people be interested in Him, or the church?
It’s been said that there are 5 Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and ourselves – and most people won’t see the first 4!! If we’re interested and enthusiastic about the things of God, then other people will stop, look and listen. If we don’t care or they don’t mean anything to us – or if so it seems! – why should anyone else care ?
Part of the problem is that a large part of our faith and Christian life is of a private nature (quite right and proper) and we don’t wish to talk about it; sometimes, perhaps we should ? However, the more fundamental part of the problem is that we are inhibited by the anti-Christian culture we live in, which tars all Christian (& claimed to be Christian) thought and opinion with the same brush.
It’s very important that we distinguish between what we know and what we don’t know! Within the Christian Faith there are some things which are difficult, some things which are unclear and some things unknown. But, there are many things that are facts and many things that are very clear and that all Christians agree upon and which we need to unashamedly proclaim.
Christianity is not a work of fiction or a historical novel. What Christianity proclaims, it proclaims as reality and truth; that
- every human being is of infinite value and will live for ever
- there is & will be a division between people. In the Bible this is referred to many times and in a number of different ways, but essentially is between
- those who will be with Jesus Christ; and
- those who will not
- Jesus Christ is God & Lord of all
- Jesus Christ came to earth from heaven (celebrated at Christmas) and died (celebrated at Easter) so that we can, if we so wish, be friends with God and live godly lives
- the problem with the world, and with ourselves, is that humanity generally lives without God (we all do wrong, the fundamental cause of which is that however well-meaning we may be, we ignore God and live selfish lives)
What Christianity exhorts, is that
- we should recognise the problems in the world, the problems in ourselves and our need of God
- we should turn away from our selfish lives and turn (back) to God. Jesus wants to be friends with us. We simply need to respond, “I too!”.
- we should welcome Jesus into our lives in reality; eg, in the same way we welcome our husband or wife into our lives – or our new son or daughter-in law – or a new baby. Things are changed – fundamentally! There’s a new person in our lives, in our family. And if we see that Jesus has been a bit crowded out, why don’t we say sorry and ask Him to come (back) into the centre of our lives, recognising Him as God and that He died for us
The Christian Life can then be expressed very simply:
- loving and serving God;
- loving and serving each other; and
- becoming more like Jesus Christ
How do we do this? Not in our own strength, but in God’s. Simply, asking Him and receiving from and responding to Him. We ask for His help, His forgiveness, His strength & power, His love, His joy, His peace – we ask for He Himself. The analogy is marriage – we give ourselves to Him and He gives Himself to us. He is our God and we are His people. How marvellous and awesome is this!
Is this boring or irrelevant – I don’t think so! To be living a life with God is the most exciting life and rewarding life there can be. It often though won’t be easy and nowhere are we told that we’ll be exempt from troubles or pain & suffering. But what we are assured, is that God will never leave us. He will stick with us through thick and thin. Jesus is Immanuel – God with us – forever! In this life and the next.
My prayer is that in this period as we look towards Easter, God will grace us with His presence and that our hearts will be set aflame. Let us pray for it. Let us pray for a revival of religion in our lives, in our church and in our community and pray that this year, 2009, God will bless our Church and our land with revival.
God has promised to give the Holy Spirit if we ask Him.
Let us take Him at His word and ask, and keep asking, until He blesses us with Revival
in His Sovereign mercy and to His glory