I live in a desert and living in a desert means that we do not get rain very often. And when we do get rain we aren’t prepared to handle it. Our streets flood, our power flickers and our drivers seem to loose their minds. The funny thing is- these things happen every time we get any substantial rain. We pray for rain, we want rain but when it comes we discover that we aren’t prepared for the effects of the rain.
I wonder if the same is true for us spiritually. In the last year or two, I have heard so many prayers asking God pour out his spirit on our church, our community and our country, but I wonder if we would be prepared if God answered our prayers. If God brought an awakening to our churches, to our communities and to our country, would we be unprepared for the effects?
Before we answer that question, we need to know what the effects of a spiritual awakening would be. I think we see a number of effects in Scripture.
- A rejection of idols (2 Kings 23:4). We may not worship images of wood or stone but we have idols that we worship: money, possessions, status- anything we set above God to give us what only God can give us.
- A reformation within the clergy (2 King 23:7-14, 20). Within the context of 2 Kings, Josiah has the priests of Baal and the other gods killed. I’m not suggesting that we need to kill clergy but there are some attitudes, traditions and expectations within the clergy that need to be killed.
- A rediscovery of heritage. (2 Kings 21-23/ Nehemiah 8:13-18). As Christians we have a vast and diverse heritage. There are the Desert Fathers, Mystics, Eastern Christianity, Western Christianity, Anabaptists and many, many others- we need to learn from them and embrace the things they have taught us about God.
- A renewed spirit of worship (Nehemiah 8:6). In the text, the people heard the words of God and it resulted in worship. Through the Word, the people came face to face with God and rediscovered the greatness of God and they worshiped. Notice that this worship was not an individual act but an act of the community. While awakening occurs first within the individual, unless it spreads to the community a revival cannot take place.
- Confession of sin (Nehemiah 9:1-3). When God pours out his spirit, people start pouring out their junk.
- Growth (Acts 2:41, 47). 3,000 new members in one day? How many churches would love that? How many churches could logistically or spiritually handle those kinds of number?
There are certainly more effects than just these six but they are a start, at least. Now that we have seen some of the effects of spiritual awakening, we can return to the question we asked earlier, are we prepared for the effects? Are we ready to reject our idols? Are the clergy ready for a reformation? Are we willing to rediscover our heritage and renew our worship? Could our churches accept and disciple thousands of people coming to Christ? Most importantly, are we ready to pour out the sin and the junk within our lives?
I’m not sure we are ready for that. How do we get ready? That is a topic for another post.
© Ryan Vanderland 2013