Editor’s note: Pastor Doug Munton posted this column on his website just as the first COVID-19 restrictions were implemented. Now, many months later, it seems an even more vital word as we contemplate life after the pandemic. Personal revival is a challenge in isolation; now our churches—and we ourselves—need a fresh wind of the Spirit as we eventually emerge to new life and renewed ministry.
Like many, I’m praying for revival in our day. By revival I mean Christians returning to a deep intimacy with the Lord.
Revival is the condition of believers being right with God and living in close fellowship with him. When revival comes, it certainly makes an impact on the world. Revival, however, is for believers who know the Lord, but have drifted from full surrender to his will and his ways.
So why should we want revival? Why should we care? Here are some reasons to desire revival in the life of our churches and in our personal lives.
1. Because God has something better for us than casual Christianity. What God wants for you is better than what the world wants for you. Casual faith tries to live like the world and look like the world. “Don’t be too radical with your Christian faith,” it warns.
But God’s way is so much better. I didn’t say it is easier, but it is better. My dad used to tell a story about a guy who got passage to America on a ship, but he didn’t have money for anything else. So, he brought some cheese and crackers along and subsisted on them. Finally, he couldn’t stand it any longer and asked the captain if he could do anything to earn money to eat with the other passengers. “Your ticket entitles you to all the food you want on our ship!” the captain informed him.
Too many followers of Jesus have settled for the crackers of cultural Christianity when God offers them all the fruit of the Spirit. Revival shows us God’s better way.
2. Because closeness with God is what we were made for. Adam and Eve were created for fellowship with God. He wanted their presence and their company. May I remind you, follower of Jesus, that God loves and longs for fellowship with you!
Christianity is not primarily about rules and religion and behavior. It is primarily about a relationship with the living God through Jesus Christ his Son. For reasons I can’t fully understand, God wants closeness and intimacy with us. He loves us and he wants our love. In salvation, we are brought from condemnation to forgiveness, from death to life, from enemies of God to dearly loved children.
In revival, we come back to our first love. In revival, that closeness with God is restored. In revival, we rediscover the purpose of our lives.
3. Because God’s blessings are found in God’s person. What we are looking for is more than material wealth or pleasure or power. Getting a taste of these things reminds us that they never fully satisfy. Our soul longs for something deeper and lasting. Only God can fill our deepest void and only he can give our lives true meaning and purpose and joy.
Christian, what your soul is looking for is Christ. It isn’t hungry for materialism, because it knows it will never provide enough. Hedonism isn’t able to provide lasting joy, and your soul wants more. No matter how successful you may be in your career or hobbies, your soul is longing for greater things.
The Lord is our blessing. All that he gives to us—friends and family, possessions and pleasures, health and energy—only points us to the author of these blessings. He is the blessing. He is the source of our joy and our peace and our life. In revival, we return to the Lord himself and we find that he is who replenishes our soul. He is who we want and need. In revival, we remember that he is our blessing.
So, will join me in praying for revival in our day?
Doug Munton has served as pastor of First Baptist Church of O’Fallon for 25 years. He has served as a leader with IBSA, including as president of the state association. He blogs at dougmunton.com.