February 24th 2010

‘Revival’

“We are given no miraculous signs; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be…Have regard for your covenant, because haunts of violence fill the dark places of the land…Rise up, O God, and defend your cause; remember how fools mock you all day long. Do not ignore the clamour of your adversaries, the uproar of your enemies, which rises continually.”

Psalm 74:9, 20, 22-23 (NIV UK) 

Not all scriptures are feel-good lines; not everything you read in the Bible leaves you with a warm and satisfied glow. Sometimes a scripture passage raises an uncomfortable echo in the back of your mind, a deep-down, carefully hidden sense of unhappiness with the way things are. 

You will very quickly sound very old indeed if you start mourning the loss of Christian values and the moral and spiritual decline of society—after all, people over 40 have been doing that for centuries—but it’s true that it’s been getting harder, socially and even professionally, for Christians to admit to what they believe in. Plenty of Christians cling to their disguises as tightly as undercover agents waiting for backup. 

Is anything going to change? Does it need to? What should we pray for? 

The word “revival” has been over-used, under-used, misused, abused and disused, until it’s hard to know what it ever meant. One imagines some sort of zealous sanctimony, maybe fanaticism. Even the dictionary says something embarrassing about “renewal of religious fervour”; it doesn’t describe taking a collective ride on the emotions of the moment or joining some public spectacle, but it mentions “special services” in an intimidating kind of way. 

Or maybe reviving has something to do with the empowering of Christians, the regeneration of churches, or the return of Jesus—none of which we can produce on our own. Rightly enough we ask God to help us with this or that effort or initiative. Maybe deep down what we long for is the will of God to be clearer to us, the power of God to be nearer, the presence and influence of God to be irresistible. 

Prayer

Father in heaven, we are not surrounded by immediate military danger like the people in the time of the Psalms, but we are surrounded by a lot of little things like dwindling credibility, negative social influences and the feeling of being outnumbered—and we have suffered some kinds of losses. You have the real power; we are only here in answer to you; what will you do?

Amen 

Study by Fiona Jones

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