As multitudes of nay-saying skeptical Christians as well as slews of anti-Christian activists come out with their slaughter of the Response event in Houston yesterday, I wanted to offer some positive feedback. I wasn’t able to attend in person, but my wife and I were blessed to have been able to watch nearly the whole event on their live web feed. Vanessa and I watched. We smiled. We cried. We prayed. We worshipped. We listened. All from our own sofas in our home. The next-best-thing to being there in person, I suppose.
There has been much skepticism and disillusionment surrounding the event. And I would like to offer a quick thought regarding this… I think every Christian in their right mind would agree that we NEED public, elected officials to call our Nation to prayer and repentance. We should (and I’m going to assume that we all DO) long for the day when we see a Nehemiah 8-10 revival… public confession, repentance, scripture reading, and prayer – in our own cultural/national setting. But what would happen if this ever occurred? Two things:
1. Non-Christian secular activists would try everything in their power to stop it. They would sue, protest, and bad-mouth those who organize, publicize, participate in, or support the gathering. They would label the event as unconstitutional, offensive, and a step away from reality. Newspaper editors and broadcasters would shrug their shoulders at the idiocracy implied in the idea that an All-Powerful diety can really be the answer to our economic problems.
2. Many Christian leaders would disregard the event as nothing more than a politically motivated candidacy rally. They would tell all of their Christian friends that this rally is bound for spiritual failure because its motivation isn’t pure. They would make fun of the speaker selection. They would dissect every word spoken and every idea presented (or NOT presented) and use it as fuel for their nay-saying fire. They would take offense that their specific denomination wasn’t represented more visibly.
I don’t think you need me to tell you this… but this is EXACTLY the fog that has surrounded the Response event in Houston. I wonder if we are going to miss out on a real God-lead revival because we (the Christians) are skeptical of a leader’s motivation or party affiliation.
I think on the Nehemiah revival at the Watergate of Jerusalem and I remember that the people of God’s promise first separated themselves from those not covered under the promise. One cannot be revived unless he or she has first been vived, so to speak. So I am not very concerned with the non-Christian public’s response to the historic event in Houston this past weekend. No, what really concerns me is the activity, blogosphere, leadership murmurings, and publicity (or lack of it) from the Christian community.
In Philippians Chapter 1, Paul teaches us what really matters is that Christ is proclaimed. And whether that is out of false motives or pure, as long as Christ is truthfully represented and His kingdom is expanded, God will receive glory. I can’t tell you how many times I heard the name of Jesus Christ preached, read from scripture, sung, shouted, proclaimed, or prayed in yesterday’s event. I heard three U.S. Governors proclaim the name of Jesus boldly and unapologetically. I heard two of them read scripture and pray in Jesus’ name. I heard one of them PREACH to the Christians in America!!! Paul would stand before us today and say, just like he said to the church in Philippi almost 2000 years ago, “Their motivation doesn’t matter!” What matters is that Christ is highly honored, His truth is proclaimed, and His gospel is presented.
On a side note, how are we to know the intentions of anyone involved? Was Rick Perry using this to promote his candidacy for the office of President in the 2012 election? I don’t know. Maybe. But only time can tell us the answer to that question. And that, only if Perry reveals it in his speech or actions. It is my assumption that the nay-saying Christians will pick apart any word he speaks in upcoming months/years to prove their point that he was not sincere in his calling the nation to repentance and prayer. Is it possible to discern from his future speeches and actions if this was true? I believe so. But let us be very careful about projecting our observations of someone else’s inward motivation onto them, regardless of party or denominational affiliation. Far-be-it from me to have the ability to discern the inward thoughts of a man’s heart. That task is left rightfully to God alone.
Was this revival? Again, only time will tell. A big prayer-and-repentance provoking event without continual obedience to God’s directives and fervent supplication/intercession for those in leadership is like a great golf-swing with no follow-through. Nice form. Nice contact. And the ball goes in the right direction. It just doesn’t get very far. Yesterday was a great swing – now it’s time to follow through.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Instead of me making thoughtful suggestions, let’s pull our ongoing obligations for revival straight from the Nehemiah revival. After weeping, repenting, and singing, the leaders got together to study the Word of God. They found very specific areas in which they were not being obedient to God’s commands (yesterday, the themes of abortion, racism, and homosexuality continuously surfaced). So if we were going to follow the Nehemiah revival for direction from here – if we’re serious about revival, that is – then our next step is for our leaders… political, ecclesiological, and familial… to study the Word of God intensely with relation to our current predicaments. What are our obligations? Are there areas of direction from God’s Word in which we have been disobedient? How should we address these issues?
Next, all of the people made a covenant. The areas of sin that God had revealed to them… the specific things they were to address… the nation made a written agreement to relent and turn from. They were very specific in their naming of each sin. Without a firm commitment to obedience, yesterday’s rally will amount to little more than a peppy one-day conference. We must assemble and agree affirmatively and stately that we (Christians) will practice righteousness from now on. At one point in yesterday’s activities, Dr. Tony Evans called the church to “stop playing hide-and-go-seek” in the middle of our culture. It’s time the church of God boldly and lovingly BE the church of God. That means you. And me. Firmly taking a stand for Christ. Among our friends. Our coworkers. Our representatives. Our family. Speaking truth in love. Not hiding from controversy in shame.
Was yesterday the beginning of a third Great Awakening? I believe that is left up to us. I honestly think it can be. But it requires more than one assembly. More than reverence for God’s Truth. More than singing. More than repentance. It requires follow-through.
Do you want to experience revival? I sure do. Instead of dividing ourselves over motives or party lines, let’s unite over a common purpose… that Christ is highly honored wether in our life or death. That the Church BE the church God has called us to be. That Christians begin to stand for Truth in a culture that is in desperate need of what we have found.
Grace and Peace,