Jesus, Community, and what little I know about Revival.
It was my senior year of college and I found myself on stage in front of an auditorium full of my peers. I was leading them in worship with some of my closest friends. The atmosphere was charged with energy like that of a summer lightning storm. We were nervous, yet hopeful and expectant that God would move in a powerful way that night. But that moment hadn’t snuck up on us. We had been gathering multiple times a week praying, sharing life, and sometimes even fasting for our campus, asking God to do something amazing among the student body of Ouachita Baptist University. During those years God did something among that small group friends that I look back on now and long for.
Although that night was nearly 5 years ago, I continue to long for some of the same things that my friends and I sought while in college. I still want to see God do something amazing in my church, in my city, and beyond.
I’m guessing that if you’re a follower of Jesus you probably also want to see a movement of God in your church and community. You might even be actively praying for it. If so, here are some of my thoughts on how we can see real revival happen in our day.
1) Seek Jesus. This has to be where it all starts. More of Jesus, less of us. A desire to know Him and make Him known. If we desire revival, but don’t genuinely desire Christ-likeness, then as crazy as it sounds, our revivalism is really more about making much of ourselves rather than God. A genuine “hunger and thirst” for Jesus (Matt. 5:6) has to be our passion. It’s a godly desire. And it’s the spark and kindling for revivals fire.
2) Community. Something powerful can happen when Jesus-followers get together to seek Him. Although, it’s not guaranteed. Something about our fallen nature makes this difficult. This is what I do know, when seeking Jesus is at the center of our community, things change. Our masks come off because there’s no need to impress one another. We realize that “all are one in Christ” (Gal. 3:28). God’s grace connects us to Him and to other people. We’re freed to really be known by other people. We’re privileged to be a part of each others redemption story. When this kind of transparency takes place, it creates momentum. It’s the fuel that feeds revivals fire.
3) The Journey. A revival is not a one time event, it’s a series of events. To revive simply means “to renew” or “to set in motion”. Perhaps one of the greatest ways we can bring revival to our communities is to change our view of what it is to see revival take place. In my opinion, any time a single person experiences a “renewal” in the grace of Jesus, we’ve seen revival. Any time a group of people are “set in motion” for God’s glory, we’ve seen revival. Each of these events is a revival fire that burns bright for God’s glory. Only God Himself sees the big picture, the thousands, millions of revival fires burning around the earth at one time. While I certainly hope that I get to see the day when hundreds and thousands of those fires catch one another’s flame and set a global fire for God’s glory, I know that I’m not in control of that, God is.
My friends and I led worship with all of our hearts that night. Students read the scriptures and sang for over two hours. When the service was scheduled to be done the student body began to call out songs for us to play. No one wanted to leave. So we worshiped with passionate singing and dancing late into the night. It was awesome. I’ll never forget it. I believe we saw revival on that night. As I look back on it I realize, however, that night was only one of the many revivals that happened that year. Most of them happened in small ways; sharing life over coffee, laughing together, supporting one another, and praying together behind closed doors.
Today, I sense something similar happening. There are revival fires burning all around, I see some of them, I hear about some of them, and Jesus is at the center of it all. I’m not saying that something unbelievably amazing is about to happen, but I’m not not saying that. I’m trying to remember that my part is singular in focus. Seek Jesus. Believe.