Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bring on the Wooden Spoon

It's humid today in Pennsylvania, downright soupy. In fact, the air's so thick, if God was minded to, he could drop a big wooden spoon out of the heavenlies and give everything a good stir. Maybe that's just what we need--a heavenly stirring! A whirling breeze exchanging the stale for the fresh, the energy of air on the move, roiling up the grace of new savors throughout the pot. As much as a change in the weather of wind and air would be nice, a change in the weather of Spirit would be even nicer.

Am I longing for revival? Perhaps, but there are some drawbacks that make me pause. Revivals have occurred frequently throughout the age of the church, so much so, that we can look at their characteristics and make some observations. There are some negatives!

Revivals fade. Generally speaking, they last for for about 3-6 years, and then, in about the same amount of time, whatever impact they've made on society has vanished, like the Titanic on the northern Atlantic. It might have been a big deal while it was afloat, but there wasn't even an oil slick marking it's passing shortly thereafter.

Revivals spoil the taste of their participants. Like candy does before a meal, revival makes everything else, even of substance, seem tasteless. The intensity and excitement of the revival experience hooks the desire of the participant like heroin does the addict. Afterwards ennui sets in, and the one revived becomes bored with, even critical of, the taste of life in the interregnum between revivals.

Revivals infect people with a self-centered spirituality. Participants become like kids in an amusement park. They bounce from one thing to the next looking for a bigger thrill. Experiences are compared on the basis of the thrill delivered. Preachers transform into carnival barkers, cheerleading about the rush to be felt at their meetings. Some turn into reverse-engineers trying to replicate and improve the thrill gotten at another venue. Spirituality riding on a roller coaster!

Revival displaces Jesus as the object of one's affections. Idolatry pure and simple: some of the "revived" relish revival more than they do friendship with Jesus! Their eyes on not fixed on the author and perfecter, but on the next possibility of revival.

Then, I look up from this soup, flicking my hands in frustration, spattering the world around me with goo, and realize just how badly we need a stirring. Our biggest thrill should be knowing the King of Glory personally, as a friend, rather than the gifts he lavishes on us, but we're thrilled with little if anything at all. Something's gotta change!

We could use some renewing:
1) a new start of obedience;
a fresh dedication to sharpening one another;
a new sensitivity to the Holy Spirit;
a new enthusiasm for knowing Christ personally;
a new hunger for making Him known to others.

All things being equal, I guess my hope is, after all, that God would bring out the big wooden spoon and stir up a revival.