I was there. I heard it. I felt it. I needed it.
I’m talking about the key takeaway of the C&MA General Council in Tampa, Fla., last month: REVIVAL. It was the theme of every gathering and the conversation on every lip. It was a divine call to go deeper and not be content with a lukewarm spirituality; to pursue the Spirit’s power and expect healings and miracles; to seek a new anointing. It was a spiritual eye exam to challenge the way we see ourselves, our world and our God.
On day one, I met a few pastors at the entrance to the exhibit hall, and we talked for almost an hour about one shared hope: the coming revival! It was clear to us that God was at work, aligning our hearts to His will. It was as if the Holy Spirit was serving us the appetizer and preparing us for the main course. And we were hungry! None of us knew what the main speaker, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, would preach during the next few nights. But there we were, passionately longing for revival. We agreed that the emerging generation is looking for genuine spirituality and that it is our duty to set the example, to point them in the right direction and to show them what it means to live in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. They don’t need more theology or good programs. They need to see us living out a revived faith—responding actively and accurately to the daily issues, struggles and questions that weigh heavily on the heart of society.
We were pumped.
That night, Rev. Rodriguez delivered a clear and powerful message about the next transforming, prophetic movement our nation needs based on the vertical and horizontal axes of the cross. To paraphrase his statement, “We need a church committed to saving the lost and transforming our communities, to address sin while confronting injustice.” That resonated deeply within me. It was a continuation of my conversation with the pastors in the exhibit hall and the answer to an age-old longing. Our faith needs to intersect with our actions and our preaching with our practical life.
But God had much more to say to us that week. For three consecutive days Rev. Rodriguez emphasized the vertical and horizontal message of the cross and the need for a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit. But this message was not confined to the evening worship services. During the Ministry Strategy Sessions, where “denominational business” is normally conducted, several people approached the floor microphones with prophetic words. Again, to paraphrase one of them, “On the threshold of revival we need to repent and be humble. We need to be healed. We need to go back to His Word and obey it. And we need to leave behind our old ways. God wants to do something new.”
Revival will come!
Now, let’s do the homework together and combine these messages. Yes, we need to repent and consecrate; but then we need to act authentically and courageously. We need to hunger for the Holy Spirit’s power and guidance to help us bear the horizontal fruit that matches our vertical convictions. Both fervent prayer and radical obedience to God’s Word are critical for revival. If we plant and plow in the fertile ground of His revealed plans and purposes, revival will come!
But how will it come and what will it look like? We have heard a lot about revival over the years. Some say it will come as Christians bring their offerings and tithes before God the way they should. Some say it will come in the form of charismatic movement. Some say it will come with an increase in membership or the establishment of the next megachurch. Some say it will come as we resolve to carry out God’s will for the here and now of the Church. It may be any or all of these. But consider this: Isn’t God sovereign to express Himself the way He wants? As A. W. Tozer wrote, “Our mistake is that we want God to send revival on our terms.”1
I must admit that when it comes to revival, my expectations run high. And as Paul wrote to the Philippians: “Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure” (Phil. 2:12, The Message). May the results of this willing and working drive us to see true revival. Lives will be transformed. Families will be restored. Knees and wills will bow before God. Christians will influence their communities, their societies and their governments according to Kingdom values. A new mindset will emerge that will take us beyond religious lingo and restore our spiritual passion. Making disciples and fulfilling the Great Commission will be a burning priority. Revival will not be limited to a few isolated manifestations of God’s power and grace. And the emerging generation of Christ followers will be handed an unmistakably authentic spiritual legacy.
Let revival come!
May it take us out of our status quo. May it be progressive and massive. May it permeate from His Spirit to our hearts, to our churches, to our communities—to the world! O Lord, surprise us in unimaginably ways. ¡Aleluya!
1 A.W. Tozer (1992). The Size of the Soul (p.5). Christian Publications.