Revival is at hand. The rise of Christianity is imminent.
But I thought Christianity was dead? An abandoned and antiquated point of view whose legitimacy and relevance has been made obsolete by the ever increasing advancements of an increasingly intelligent people with no need for it. Ah, but we aren’t talking about Christianity as defined by a culture. True Christianity has never been defined by culture, or country, or time, space, or popular thought. True Christianity, the faith in, submission to, and following of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of the world, is defined by God himself and, though not existing in a vacuum, its “health” is not effectively evaluated through worldly eyes.
Most Christians in America have been on quite a journey the last 20 years or so. Political, social, and cultural change and heightened political divide/tensions have provided a roller-coaster ride of personal challenge and, hopefully, spiritual growth. What we’ve seen…what we are seeing is, by God’s grace, a shift from earthly to heavenly; from worldly to godly, from the temporal to the eternal. This is a good thing; but, unfortunately, many of our brethren are missing out on the reality of what has taken and is taking place. What many see purely as political, social, or cultural occurrence is, in fact, evidence of God’s divine and omnipotent, supernatural working. If we miss “what God is up to,” we miss the point of it all entirely.
We’ve seen a lot with our human eyes only. We could go further back, of course, but if we go back just twenty-five or so years we can have good context for gaining present-day spiritual perspective. Politics and cultural issues are a good barometer of the recent journey. From Bill Clinton’s initial salvos of relativism on truth (You might recall his much ballyhooed and then-under-oath qualification in response to questions about testimony on sexual indiscretion when he said, “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is”) to hot-off-the-presses news now that there are more than two sexes, babies are not really babies, marriage is antiquated and unnecessary, cheating or lying is all right as long as the ends justify the means, morality is relative, truth is whatever you say it is, and there is no God – It is clear reality is ignored by man when expedient for his own means to an end. Pilate ignorantly asks, “What is truth?” Nietzsche postulates there is no difference between good and evil. And today, the mighty modern man says, “Truth is what I make it.”
“21 He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.” – Dan. 2:21
It should be easy to see the set-up now. We have been graciously given a reprieve from our naive and mundane prior existence and brought face to face with the failings of what we thought we knew (At least if you have truly chosen to follow Christ or have the desire to do so, you likely have come to this understanding by now). While we may be a bit uncomfortable at the moment, our previous grasp of and comfort with what we thought to be reality wasn’t very good. What is good is the knowledge that, while we may find ourselves a bit less certain about things past, present, and future, our creator and sustainer God not only knows exactly what is going on, but how, when, why, and to what end. There is little doubt God is testing us; little doubt that all the words we’ve heard of refinement, shaking, testing, trials and the like are coming to pass, and for a just cause. If hindsight is 20/20, then how much more so sight when aided by The Holy Spirit! We’ve moved from complacency to skepticism, from disbelief to fear and trembling, from indignation to anger, from fighting mad to resigned, and from confusion to jubilation and back to head-scratching and…now what? Now, the picture is getting clearer. After all, God is not the author of confusion; nor is He confused. He doesn’t want us to be confused, either. So where do things go from here? One thing is clear: Our leaders and governmental circumstances, along with the ever-growing number of social, cultural, and political issues, entities and representative figures that mark our time, are signposts, mile markers if you will, that tell us something about where and who we’ve been and can be clues as to where we must turn and who we are called to be.
Make no mistake about it. There is a reason for that longing in your heart, that restlessness of spirit, that unsettling in your soul (And if you don’t feel those things there may be cause for alarm). The fact is that we, especially those of us in The West, have long been drifting from God. To say that the evidence of that fact has come as a shock to the body of believers is evidence in itself to just how far away we have drifted. All one need do is pick up one of the more noteworthy, and classic, older works of our forerunners and read, feel, and see the depth and richness with which they examined and related God. What began (at least for generations now living) in the 50s as a social experiment in suburbia has met with disaster. The enemies methodology, offering us the world on a platter has paid nice dividends – for him. God has spoken. It is time to come home.
“26…Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 For our God is a consuming fire.” -Heb. 12:26-29
God will not be mocked, and His ultimate purposes will be accomplished. While Christians of the past 50 years thought they could compartmentalize their safety-blanket of faith, personal ambitions, and worldly desires as they wished, carving out a small place for their creator and master around their own established personal kingdoms, the God of Heaven has balked. What we are now sensing, and I dare say seeing, is evidence of a necessary reckoning.
“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of an incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man….” – Romans 1:21-23
Reckoning is not a bad thing. There is a lot more good occurring right now than I believe most Christians in America recognize. The fact that a lot of what is going on isn’t being recognized for what it truly is leads us to understand part of what The Holy Spirit is trying to do: sensitize the believer to His leading, His voice, and His working in and around us. I have many times introduced people to God as a gentleman, one who doesn’t force himself on you, but rather is best glorified by the exercise of our own free-will when we choose to hear his gracious call; and the call doesn’t end after He has called one to salvation. The call is a continuous one. It is a call that can be heard now. The bible teaches us “The kingdom of God is at hand.” And we are also taught that the kingdom of God is within. We cannot be the refined bride of Christ, ready for His coming, without first seeing the establishment of His permanent and all-encompassing lordship in our lives…not as part of our lives…literally inside us. This is His call.
Not only is God enabling His people to recognize Him and His ways more fully, but He is calling His church to be active in what He is doing, and to abide with Him and His Spirit. There is a necessary dying to self, and letting go of the way we have looked at life, so that we can live it in the circumstances that are to come and serve His purposes. What are those circumstances and purposes? That is the aforementioned refinement. The beauty is that, for the believer, God has already begun pouring out His Spirit personally for the necessary work to be done in each of us, preparing us not just for what is to come on this earth but for eternity. He has heard the cry of our heart; moreover, He has put the cry there and answered it! Are you tired? Bored? Hungry? Feel a sense of longing that just can’t be quenched? If you have not yet recognized God for who He is and received Jesus Christ as your savior and lord and chosen to forsake all and to follow Him, this is the graciously-given longing in your heart for the God who created you and for a savior who died for you. And for the believer, that longing is deep calling out to deep – the Holy Spirit in you longing for God and His ways, His justice, His relief, His reward, His comfort, His purpose, His life, His kingdom, and, ultimately, for Heaven on earth. When we pray, “Kingdom come down,” God says yes, but some things are going to have to change! (Thank you, Lord)
Open the eyes of your heart. Abandon self. Pay close attention. Pray for clear vision, wisdom, and discernment. The evidence is all around. It is in nature, in our economy, in the headlines, in politics, church, in your neighbors life, in sports, TV, world news, and in your heart. Revival is at hand. God is calling all who are to be His to rise up. For all the focus and emphasis and reporting of what has been and is wrong with The Church and with Christianity, look closely: You will see refinement, you will see the true church rising, you will see evidence all around of God’s Spirit moving in His body and revealing His true nature, character, and intent. Do I believe things will get “worse?” Absolutely and without any doubt. Prepare yourself and your generations for it. But it will get better also, at least in the eyes of God. And He is, after all, the one who defines what is.