Friday, February 22, 2008


Visions fill my heart, sometimes, bursting forth in unexpected fullness and with vigor and passion that surprise me though I ought, by now, to be accustomed to them. Visions of a world different from this one in which we live: visions of Christians actually being Christ-followers, of churches becoming the Church, of a people truly living as Christ's Body on this earth. I dream of what that might be like: a world transformed by a people transformed - the renewing of minds leading to a metamorphosis in our understanding of everything. I dream of what we might do, what we might accomplish for Christ if we dedicated ourselves to holiness, to the advancement of the gospel, to making Him supreme in our lives - if we decided that His glory would be our chief end, our great joy, the one source of meaning in our existence.

I wonder if - maybe - we might see a revival in this land.

Revival in this land cannot come without revival first in the churches of this land. We desperately need to understand our desperate need for Christ. We are no longer in desperate need of salvation, but we remain in desperate need for His transforming grace to work our sanctification - for even now that we are saved, our own strength is utterly insufficient for making ourselves holy. There is nothing we can do of ourselves, yet the destruction of indwelling sin and the deep hunger for and pursuit of holiness must characterize our every day if we are to truly be imitators of Christ.

If there is no revival, America will destroy itself: collapsing into a moral sinkhole, spiraling downward farther and farther as it embraces perversion and rot, calling good evil and evil good. People will continue to believe, however foolishly, that they are the arbiters of their own realities, capable of creating for themselves an ethicality and a morality that are somehow true. And as they cling to that false notion, they will run ever farther astray from the will of God. What Christian moral and ethical heritage this nation has are fast fading. We cannot trust that heritage to support us any longer in our efforts for evangelization, for people outside the church are increasingly illiterate of Scripture and ignorant of Truth. We must now instead reach out to people who live in an increasingly pagan society as pagans, not as mere unbelievers already aware of the main thrusts of our faith. We must do as the early church did, and preach the gospel with boldness, with courage, and with understanding. We must live missional lives, not simply make missional statements.

But for our efforts in reaching out to our unbelieving friends and neighbors and relatives to be effective - for us to meaningfully adopt missional lifestyles - we must first commit ourselves to the pursuit of Christ. There will almost certainly be no revival on this land unless God's people truly seek Him and seek brokenness before Him. (I do not presume to know the mind of God sufficiently to claim that there will absolutely be no revival: He is more than capable of moving in spite of the stubbornness of His people - but historically, revival has always come when His people confessed their sins, moved to a state of brokenness about themselves and the lost surrounding them, and dedicated themselves to prayer.)

Real change is possible. I can see it, smell it, taste it, hear it, sometimes, as though it were just out of sight, simply waiting for our appropriation. God works through people. Sometimes He clearly and obviously intervenes in history - but even in those instances, He nearly always does so through people. Moses. David. Elijah. John the Baptist. Peter. Paul. Tertullian. Athanasius. Many church fathers. Luther. Wesley. Spurgeon. Billy Graham. God moves through people. He rarely operates in a vacuum. And I honestly, deeply, passionately believe that He wants to use us: the ordinary men and women of this generation. There will be leaders, men and women of particular and peculiar vision and calling - but the work will be accomplished by the "lay" people. A movement requires leadership, but leadership alone is not a movement: it is when people follow leaders to accomplish a task that there is movement, and it is when movement crystallizes from short-term purpose into long-term vision that lasting frameworks of ministry are built.

Can you see it? Can you hear it? Do you realize that revival could start here, now, with you and me? That the only place revival can start is with you and me? Do you grasp the magnitude of what it would mean for revival to come - the incredible change that would be wrought upon this land and the whole world, if hundreds of thousands or even millions of Americans came to their knees and confessed Christ as Savior and Lord?

Do I sound foolish or crazy, thinking that such a thing is possible? Good! It is folly in the wisdom of man - and no wisdom or plan of man will accomplish it; nor, should it happen, will it be of the efforts of men, no matter how Godly. It will be of the grace of the Father working through the Spirit to proclaim the Truth of the Son. It is certainly not feasible in any way that I know of, save for the outpouring of power and anointing on the body of Christ - and that will come when we are brought to repentance and desperation for Him alone - when we trust no more in our material success, when we are content no longer with our comfortable middle class lives, when we are at last convinced of the necessity of sacrifice and the worthiness of the cause of Christ above our own gain - when we finally begin to count all as loss, rubbish, nothing in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord.

If this be the wisdom of God, then I embrace it wholeheartedly, no matter how foolhardy it may sound to men. I will pray for God to move until I see Him move; I will preach the gospel to myself daily and preach the gospel to my saved friends as often as I can to remind them of what they have been given and gently but boldly proclaim the truth to those who are not believing so that they may know and be set free. I will press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. I will ground myself in the word of God, in prayer, in discipline, in fellowship - true, rich fellowship - and will run the race with endurance.

And I will fail. But when I fail, I will remember that it is His grace that has effectually called me, that has saved me, that is sanctifying me, and that will pick me up and carry me on when I have stumbled.

I praise God for those of like heart, of common vision; I thank God for those who He has place in my life who encourage me by their faithfulness to the word and to point me to His goodness and truthfulness and utter reliability.

I have a vision of what God can do, what I believe He longs to do. It is impossible with man - but all things are possible with God!

Vision with me.

- Chris

1 comment:

  1. Chris,

    I think this is what you were trying to express to me yesterday and it just wasn't getting through. I do so deeply agree with your grief over the body of Christ and the state we are in. God has called us to intercede for revival by falling on our knees in repentance before Him. Like Daniel, it is not "their" sin out there—it is deeply our sin. That is why many prayer times for me these days are spent weeping, literally, before the Lord for our world, our nation, our leaders, the body, our youth, our families.

    Sorry that we failed in communicating and hearing effectively yesterday.

    Love you.


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