Revival is a term very seldom heard or used today but most churches and Christians want one. Its kind of like the 60s term groovy, a word seldom heard and used but people still want life to be groovy.
I have been wondering why today we seldom see legitimate revival, in someone’s life, a church, a community, or even a nation.
A few year ago I did some research on revivals in America, The Great Awakening 1734-1743, The Second Great Awakening 1800-1840, The Businessmen’s Revival 1857-1858, The Civil War Revival, 1861-1865, The Urban Revivals, 1875-1885, The Azusa Street Revival, 1906, The Post World war 2 Awakening, 1947-1948, the Charismatic Renewal and Jesus Movement of the 70s (When I came to faith), the 1970 Asbury College Revival, and there or others small and large. We cant underestimate how much these revivals have impacted America and the millions of lives transformed because of them.
I don’t want to simplify this too much, there are many factors that are key to revival but I want to select one: REPENTANCE is the core, key, center, and prequisate for a real revival, one that transforms lives, Churches, communities, and a nation.
When John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus he said, “Repent, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”. When Peter preached the first sermon at the birth of the Church he said, “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins”. 3000 got the message that day.
Repentance is from the Greek, Metanoea (Verb) and Metanoya (Noun), meaning “to change one’s mind and purpose…to change one’s mind, heart, and life, to move from worse to better, its about a turn from one life to another, a personal or corporate reformation to live the Holy life that the Bible teaches and Jesus modeled.
It is not saying I am sorry for my sin, though this might be a part. Being forgiven of sin is easy, God does that work through the cross of His son Jesus Christ. Forgiveness is for the asking, salvation is for the accepting, these are gifts of God that require only a little faith. Repentance takes work, it is the work of the one who want life to change, it for the one who is serious about leaving sin behind and grasping for the good life Jesus teaches and models. Its confessing and then beginning a life of repentance, of change, of transformation one the bible calls sanctification and Methodists believe is a life journey of moving on to perfection. Becoming a Christian is easy, being a Christian is the hardest work anyone will ever do.
This is why I think we don’t see or experience revival very often. People might want God to give us a good life, but repentance is accepting the responsibility to LIVE THE GOOD LIFE. When Jesus said He came to “Give live and give it more abundantly”, He wasn’t talking about something He would force on anyone, He was talking about a new way of life lived in the grace of salvation that begins it.
We have to be willing to confess our sin, specific and named. We must be willing to live a different kind of life, a loving one yes, but also a holy one.
Our culture seems to have little interest in a holy life. It seems much like a mission trip I helped lead years ago to Greely, Colorado. In the town there was a rendering plant that caused a stench to cover the town like a rotten blanket. When people who lived there were asked how they could live with that awful smell, they typically said, “You get used to it”. I believe many are simply used to the damaging ways and temptations that surround most of us and its just easier to participate than it is to repent and live differently. We see the evidence of this in the tragedy, hate, and damage that surround us. Many want a blessed life, a happy life, a meaningful life, a loving life, but without repentance that kind of life will be elusive if not unobtainable. We have to live a life that God can bless.
“Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. This is where revival is experienced an what most of us, the church, and this country needs!