Revival. We all have ideas about what we think this word means. Sometimes we use it to get others hyped about Jesus for a period of time... Or maybe we think of times in history when the nation saw great moves of God, or we might think that revival is something so far off in the distance that maybe if we pray hard enough and fast enough or long enough and obey well enough, we will see God’s supernatural hand in our lives. Though connotations may differ, the root of revival remains: Revival is when dead things come to life.
I heard about Azusa Now from Lou Engle as he was sharing the vision he had to see the church united as one, praying for God to continue to pour out His Spirit on America. His words carried weight; he meant what he said. Lou was convinced of what God wanted to do, and his conviction stirred a conviction in me. I booked a flight to LA and months later, I was on my way to a week of revival meetings, events, and conferences 1,000 miles away.
Being in Los Angeles during this time of revival marked me in many ways. It was indescribable to be in a coliseum of 100,000 Christians truly standing inone accord. Repentance, reconciliation, restoration - God could not be missed at this gathering. I felt honored to be in the physical place where so many men and women of God came together to cry out for the same thing.
I could share many testimonies and encounters from this day, but the most impactful part of the entire week for me was encountering the glory of God in between the times of receiving in meetings and teachings, when we went out into the city and freely gave and gave, just as we had received.
I was able to take part in a school called Power and Love the week before the Azusa Now event. The school was offered as an equipping and training module for those seeking to love people just as Jesus did when He walked this earth: with power. I loved this school because it was not a time of just being talked at for days on end with an impersonal commissioning and a good luck memo at the end. This was a place of authentic learning, hand in hand with brothers and sisters I had never met before. Speakers like Todd White, Heidi Baker, and Tom Ruotolo gave a few short teachings, but the whole conference was held with the value system in place that more is caught than taught. If teaching does not result in action, then it is useless.
The entire Bible is a testament to this concept. Jesus did not just tell His disciples what His Father was up to, He showed them. Jesus always demonstrated the Gospel with power and love; signs and wonders always authenticated the words Jesus spoke. That is why 2 Corinthians 4:20 says, “The Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power.” That’s a bold statement, and might upset some of our evangelism tactics - if we have any at all. But that’s okay. Because those hungry for revival, for resurrection of dead things, will begin to think differently about normal life until they believe power is not for the elite, not for the elders, not for the mature.
The power of the Gospel is from the Holy Spirit, Who lives in every believer. His power is for everyone. When the Spirit comes in power, revival happens.
After a school session one day, a friend and I met a woman named Vicky. She was walking on the same sidewalk as us, and instead of responding how we ordinarily would have by continuing our conversation and avoiding eye contact with this woman, we said hello. We acknowledged a human being. We said, indirectly, you exist. We chatted with her and she began to share her life story, her struggles and triumphs, the whole bit. My friend and I encouraged her throughout and kept telling her that God just adored her. She responded, “Why is everyone telling me that today?”
Her question shook me up and changed something in my perception of the normal Christian life. I couldn’t help but think that this should be everyone’s response living next to a believer, living next to a child of God excited about their Father. Our neighbors should hear and believe that God loves them every day. Why don’t they? We can tell people all we want that God is pursuing them, but are we pursuing them? I thought of my Christian university back home. There are dozens of people leaving the country to go on mission trips, but I wondered, have the people at our local grocery store heard the Gospel? What about at the gym? What about in the marijuana shops?
Vicky’s question was a small array of words that broke the dam of wondering in my brain and gave way to a flood of questions. I wondered how Christians got so far away from the revival seen in the Bible, revival that was normal everyday life.
I processed through this question all week and I realized that sometimes as Christians we think that revival is just for Jesus, just for the Bible, just for the unreached people who desperately need God revealed. But the reality is that everyone is desperate for a touch from God - whether it is recognized or not. I have heard in church many times, “The same Spirit that rose Jesus from the dead lives in you!” Okay WOW first, that is some GOOD NEWS. That means the revival – moving from death to life - Spirit lives inside of us.
This truth became heavier inside of me as the week in LA continued. I am continually being convinced that the same Spirit that rose Jesus from the dead lives in me, but also that the same Spirit that anointed Jesus for ministry lives inside of me. THAT IS CRAZY! Reality check: should my daily life look different than what we read about in the Bible? Sounds slightly unrealistic, but John 14:12 tells us we will do greater works than Jesus.Either it’s true or it’s not. We took God seriously when He told us not to murder, but did we take Him seriously when He told us this? Think about it.
Over 100,000 Christians were gathered in one city and each one left the fingerprint of God wherever they went. I just wonder what America would look like if we carried this mentality and fervor back home - when loving people as Jesus did is uncomfortable, and instead of being supported in reaching out, we are misunderstood for it.
I can be wildly selfish in preferring my own comfort over a person’s resurrection from the dead. When it is put in such a straightforward sentence, it makes me wonder why my life doesn’t look different. I can say I value a person’s eternal life and freedom… but is this still true when my comfort or reputation is on the line? When I have to take a risk? When I’m really busy? When I could look like a fool? When I might get it wrong? When the person I am talking to doesn’t want to hear a word I say? When my friends want to get ice cream instead and are telling me to hurry up? When I am not on a mission trip? If I’m honest, I cannot answer yes to most of these questions. And that is a problem. Do we actually believe that we possess the Answer that everyone is looking for?
What if we thought like Jesus thought? What if we believed like He believed? There is no place for outreach; life is outreach. There is no day for ministry; life is ministry. There is no time for revival; life is revival.What if we really believed that revival follows us wherever we go and could (and should) actually be our normal Christian lives, because of the Holy Spirit inside of us?
It would be a real shame to contend for God to spontaneously drop from Heaven the Spirit of revival, without seeing the Spirit of revival already inside of us that Jesus already died to put there at salvation. I am learning that revival is not something to be chased but something to be found. And He is found inside of us. The naked truth is, revival would break out all across America and the entire world if we truly believed that revival did not come by going to church, going to conferences, receiving teaching week after week, tithing, and occasionally saying a nervous hello to a homeless person on the street... but it came from a life completely abandoned to the Spirit of God inside of us that loves to breathe resurrection on His people, saved and unsaved.
It is possible to live a life of belief that God loves to partner with His children in bringing dead things to life, every single day. This is the true Gospel of Christ and it is challenging. It forces us to wrestle with our ideas of human nature and to lay down our lives, to pick up our cross, which is simply HIM, and walk out the nature of Christ within us. And that means to do as Jesus did - and He didn’t just tell, He showed.