Sunday, August 23, 2009

REVIVALS!!! .... and why I don't like them....

I was a Christian for a lot of years, before I became a Baptist. And, it wasn't until I became a Baptist that I ever went to a "revival".

Or was in a church that had one.

And, after 28 years, I don't like "revivals" .. at least not the approach Baptists seem to have, to them.

My firm belief is that the Christian who wants to follow his Lord, can do so. Certainly we have trouble with our old sin nature, as long as we are alive on earth. But, any way you slice it, "revival" indicates something needs to be revived. And to think that Baptists need to have their faith "die" in a manner that needs revival seems, to me, to be setting folks up for failure.

It's as if we expect folks to need to be revived once a year. Or maybe every other year, and all at once, apparently.

The verse that's cited is usually 2 Chronicles 7:14....

"...... if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (NIV)

On its face, if applied to the church congregation, it says that folks have turned from following Christ, to their old wicked ways, and need to get back to God. I'd wonder why the average pastor would tell folks in the congregation that he thought that. Unless they had, which doesn't say much for his opinion of his own preaching. But there's something else about that verse that makes me question its use in that situation.

The verse cited above comes after a comma, and what goes before is this:

"When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people..." (NIV)

So. When a preacher speaks forth 2 Chronicles 7:14, he's declaring that God has shut up the heavens so there's no rain, that He's commanded the locusts to devour the land, or that He's sent a plague among us. Or the Spiritual equivalent of that. Do we expect that to happen every year or so, in the average SBC church?

If it actually happens in a church, something would be drastically wrong, methinks. And doubly so if the pastor thinks that's happened when it hasn't.

Were I sitting around philosophizing about religions, I think I'd want one in which we really could walk with the Savior. In which conformity to the Image set before us, really is possible.

Of course I know we can never achieve perfection in our walk with Christ, and of course I know we'll need forgiveness every day of our earthly lives. Although perfection (as in Jesus' life) isn't attainable, it can surely be our goal. And the tools God has graciously shown us in His word ... prayer, meditation, forgiveness, teaching, reproof, correction, restoration ... all of them, seem to me to be sufficient to let us lead a life of devotion to Him. Without that need for annual revival.

NOW: on our first mission trip to Jamaica, our trip coincided with a week of "Evangelistic Services", which looked just like what we call "revival". They were just like they sounded, except they turned the loudspeakers around so they faced out the windows. And they had a fine harvest.

So, maybe we ought to call them what Red Hills Baptist Church calls them. What they really are. Evangelistic Services. And stop telling our people they're going to get all backslidden and need to be "revived".

Oh yeah .. is there anything weirder than praying for God to send revival ... next month?


2 Comments:

At 1:51 AM, August 25, 2009, Blogger Aussie John said...

Bob,

A hearty "Amen!". I've always told folk that only the dead or the unconscious need to be revived. It always seems rather arrogant for man to say he will have a revival when God, through the Holy Spirit, decides when true revival can happen, as has been attested to in history gone by.

 
At 8:44 AM, August 25, 2009, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Thanks, John. This has bothered me for years and years and I finally decided to say something. Glad to know I'm not alone.

And I didn't even mention the fact that the "old system" is the one that built a church of 16+ million members, the majority of whom cannot be found. And, that also doesn't want to do anything about that, apparently.

 

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