There is plenty of talk about revival in the church – which betrays a genuine longing for God’s kingdom to break out in ever increasing influence. On the other hand, you have a perennial lottery like mentality – if we keep predicting it and talking about it – it might come true. The danger with that is the ‘cry wolf’ syndrome that creates a cynicism towards the subject.
J. I. Packer is helpful in the essay: “The Glory of God and the Reviving of Religion” in A God-Entranced Vision of All Things (pp. 100-104):
Revival is God touching minds and hearts in an arresting, devastating, exalting way, to draw them to himself through working from the inside out rather than from the outside in. It is God accelerating, intensifying, and extending the work of grace that goes on in every Christian’s life, but is sometimes overshadowed and somewhat smothered by the impact of other forces. It is the near presence of God giving new power to the gospel of sin and grace. It is the Holy Spirit sensitising souls to divine realities and so generating deep-level responses to God in the form of faith and repentance, praise and prayer, love and joy, works of benevolence and service and initiatives of outreach and sharing.
What would a revived/renewed community of Christ followers look like, then?
- divinely supernatural community – this cannot happen by just working harder and dreaming bigger – it is a sovereign surprising act of God’s kindness and power
- emotionally healthy community who displays visible signs of an encounter with God’s goodness
- redemptively authentic and transparent community – where sin is not hidden in shame but exposed and redeemed by the extravagant grace and powerful Spirit
- outward focused relational & missional community – that overflows with the streams of living water that come from Christ Himself
- humble and anonymous spotlight-giving community in which Christ is the Star and we are the grateful and privileged best-supporting acts
Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Psalm 85:6