“We need a revival!” I’ve heard this cry in pastors’ prayer meetings many times. I believe it is as true today as at any point in the last few decades: We need a revival! But why do we need revival? I hope to provide some answers in a series of posts starting with this one. A few of the answers will be surprising to you, so make sure you keep reading over the coming weeks.
Of course, one of the first and most obvious reasons we need revival has to do with the hearts of individual Christians. We were made for an experience with God, the most important experience being so radical in nature that Jesus referred to it as being born again (John 3). Vital Christianity doesn’t settle for a one-off, though. We have the ongoing experience of Romans 8:16, God’s Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God. God’s Spirit doesn’t just bear witness with our minds. He impresses the truth of our identity as sons and daughters at the deepest level of our being, our spirits. This is experiential knowledge that involves more than intellectual assent to doctrinal truth. What a blessing to live in continuous awareness of how much God loves us!
The problem for most of us, however, is that we don’t live in that continuous awareness. Intellectual assent to scriptural truth is very important–God wants us to love him with all our minds as well as with all our hearts. But, it’s easy to slip into an approach to God that is too dependent on our minds. We no longer depend on the Spirit’s witness.
When my daughters were really young, every once in awhile I would abruptly say, “Guess what!” My daughters would respond, “What?” as they eagerly anticipated some exciting news. Then I’d say, “I love you!” After some time, though, whenever I said, “Guess what!” my daughters would automatically say, “You love me!” Thankfully, they always said it with a smile. They were glad to receive the affirmation. They never seemed bored or dismissive in any way.
“Guess what! I love you!” always seemed to be exciting news for my children. How much more exciting when God the Father speaks it to our spirits. It’s important for dads to affirm their love for their children. It’s also important for us as children of God to keep listening to God’s affirmations.
Our God is a good Father and has never stopped saying, “Guess what! I love you!” But I think we sometimes get bored and dismissive. We take it for granted because we know it intellectually. Most of us have been taught to believe the truth: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” That’s good! Many have never been taught, however, to remain open spiritually to God’s direct affirmations by his Spirit. When we reduce God’s affirmation of fatherly love for us to a doctrinal truth only, we are in danger of losing the excitement of an ongoing experiential grasp of the truth. We are in danger of being dismissive, indifferent, or just bored with our faith. If we have taken on the attitude that says, “Yeah, yeah, I know: You love me,” then we need a fresh touch from the Holy Spirit. We need revival.
Revival is needed for other reasons than this, though grasping God’s love for us is primary. What’s your experience? What are some reasons you can think of that we need revival, either as individuals or as the body of Christ at large? I’d love to know your thoughts! Scroll down to share your insights in the comments section.