Saturday, December 02, 2006

Revival thoughts

Over at The Heresy Leighton Tebay has some good thoughts Reconsidering Revival. The post is about a week old now, but I have been digesting his thoughts since last weekend.

It is thought that if we pray the right way, or have the right anointed leader, or have attained enough spiritual authority revival will come.

Spiritual authority is a concept that shifts from group to group. Some believe that there is a hierarchical governing authority to everything flowing down from apostles to prophets to pastors to elders to men to women and finally children. Others also believe that through a spiritual process individuals or groups gain more authority to break down oppressive spiritual strongholds. For revival to come they must go through a continual process of empowerment and refinement. Leaders must strive to achieve a level of prophetic clarity so they can hear God accurately and speak powerful words. When they reach a certain level they will be able to pull down the spiritual strongholds that hold a particular geographic area captive. The strategy employed to do this is called spiritual mapping. When this is successful the spiritual bonds that keep people from Christ are broken, the Holy Spirit floods out and people flood back in to the church.

How this looks in the real world is sometimes far from the ideal. In all my years of observing such groups the spiritual breakthrough has never arrived. Some maintain that it is still coming...

I think the overwhelming message of the Spirit these days is "clean up your act and get your show on the road". It is a terrible mistake to hide behind safe walls in sheltered enclaves waiting for something to happen. I think the impetus behind an obsessive focus on intercession and spiritual warfare could be a terrible deception designed to keep spiritually empowered Christians away from the rest of the world.

I believe the most powerful vehicle for building the kingdom of God that we can employ is the local church. As a simple church advocate I'd say the local church can be something very small and relatively unstructured and still be a church. I've lost a lot of faith in independent ministries and para-church organizations. It feels odd for me to say this because the best influences in the first 10 years of my Christian life were para-church ministries. I really think all these smart gifted people that are frustrated with the inaction of the church need to find their way back. Things like evangelism, teaching and discipleship work best in a community of believers that are actually committed to each other.

Some might think I would oppose a revival if one actually occurred. I'm not against it because a true revival will be the work of God. I believe it has become an idol in some elements of the Christian church. Our focus on what we want God to do (through us usually) has distracted us from stepping out in faith and doing what we know we are supposed to do. I don't believe God would bring a flood of people in to a church that is already full of people indistinguishable from the world.

<idle musing>
I come from a revivalist background. I firmly believe in revival. But, Leighton's comments are right on. Some of us have idolized revival and made it the answer instead of Jesus. Jesus is always the source of any revival that there might be. The surest way to experience revival is to surrender our will to his and allow the Holy Spirit to transform us.

Obedience, not manifestations or experiences, is the evidence of revival. As long as there is no difference between those in the church and those outside the church, don't look for a revival in the land. The revival must begin in the church. I read once that the best way to pray for revival was to get down on your knees on the floor, draw a circle around yourself and start praying for revival within the circle! And that revival will be a fresh realization of who Jesus is and what he demands from us–not a feel-good experience that allows us to continue to wallow in our sins.
</idle musing>

No comments: