Thursday, January 9, 2014

i don't believe in revival

This post is similar to the one where I say that I don't believe in social justice, and in many ways, it's very similar, though in much the same way a photo negative is similar to the photograph.

In the religious section of the liberal and conservative divide, revival serves much the same function among conservatives as social justice does for liberals. It is the goad that makes people get out and do whatever the people in charge want them to do. It is the carrot that is hung before the crowds to make them respond.

Revival is a nebulous concept, and perhaps all the more useful because of it's lack of clarity. What is revival? Hard to say. A church, particular of an older mindset, might have a week of “revival meetings”, which might mean that the church has invited a guest speaker to preach every night that week. But that doesn't seem to be what some today mean by revival.

One might think that the seemingly endless stream of conferences, gatherings, and events that fill stadiums and large mega-churches might qualify as revival, or at least an indication of it. But while such things may be considered good things, they aren't themselves really revival.

Like social justice, revival isn't really something one arrives at so much as something one is constantly trying to arrive at. Just as things are never just enough in the social justice mindset, things are never revived enough in the revival mindset. If you surrendered yourself completely last month, well, that was last month, have you done it today? Are you at this moment completely surrendered now? If not, well, you'd best do it!

And like social justice, revival is tied in to the political and social ambitions of the leaders. In other words, revival is closely tied with Dominianism. Just as a liberal dominionists might dream about a society which embodies their notions of social justice, conservative dominianists dream of a society which embodies what they mean by revival.

Revival isn't just conversion. It's always something more. One must always do more, surrender more, give more, pray more, pray longer, pray more extremely, take a bigger risk, live larger, want more, have bigger experiences, want more and more to change the world, and so on.

I do not believe in revival, just as I do not believe in social justice. I do not believe that revival is the answer, I do not think that if the church prays enough, surrenders enough, gives enough, whatevers enough, then all of a sudden the world will start to like us more, and will finally do what the church wants it to do. I do not believe that if somehow the people in charge of the various aspects of society were to become Christians (in it's loosest definition), then suddenly the country will become a much better place, and might even be well on its way to becoming christianized.

I do not pursue revival. I do not attend all-night meetings where people over and over and over ask God to send revival. I do not go to various places where people say “the Spirit is moving there!”. I sure don't go to church to fall down, bark like a dog, act like a drunk, or any of the inane and bothersome signs of what people have called revival in the all-too-recent past.

I believe in conversion. I believe in the Gospel of salvation through faith in the crucified and risen Christ. I believe that Christians have good works God has given them to do, and that a lot of those works are very mundane things—doing honest work well, looking after your families, loving and serving the people around you.

I also believe that the world hates God, and thus will hate those who are God's. I believe what Jesus said about the same world that hated Him will also hate those who follow Him. I believe what Jesus said about how in this world we will have trouble, but we should be of good cheer because He has overcome the world. I believe that we are more than conquerors while in the midst of lots of terrible stuff like tribulations, persecution, trials, and all kinds of bad situations.

The emotional appeals of revival have grown stale to me. The constant stress on wanting God more does not do much for someone who knows that God is with him. The straining to hear some kind of hard-to-hear voice that may or may not be God has become very suspect, since seeing that such a thing is not taught in the Bible.

If our hope is in revival, our hope is in the wrong place.

No comments: