For a long while now I have come to loathe the word "revival". I know it's just a word, and we mean it for good, yet why would we speak of the past when we really mean, and really need the future? Why would I speak of being dead when that is all "I" have ever been?
To be revived means to be returned to life, or to be returned to a former state. It supposes first that "I" am either dead, or that my current status is somehow lacking from some time in the past. Do I remember some time that was somehow better with God? Am I yearning to return to a point in time that was spiritually more fulfilling? What about the God of the Bible suggests that this is the sort of relationship that I want with Him, or better yet, that He wants with me?
As one who is well steeped in American evangelical churching and it's notion of "revival", and particularly the conservative Southern variety, I can only hope in my heart of hearts that this is NOT what we really mean (or want) when we use this word. My historical picture of revival is a week-long series of church services conspicuous by the requirement that he who preaches be from the outside...a revivalist. You can keep that term as well. My heart wants nothing to do with it either.
God is speaking today, and loudly, that he wishes encounter. Real, personal, life-changing, Spirit-led encounter. You see, before I come to Jesus, I am dead in my sinful nature. Then when I open that door upon which Jesus knocks, I encounter all three persons of the trinity. Notably, being "saved" means a confirmation of my death, not a resurrection of MY life; rather a confirmation of the resurrection of the life of Jesus in me! The Spirit of Christ lives in me. Jesus mediates on my behalf to the greatest Father of all. I have no need to be revived thank-you-very-much. But I have an insatiable need for encounter.
"Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you."
Encounter is about drawing nearer still. It says, "More of You God! I hunger and thirst for You!". Nowhere do I find or sense God telling his people to return to a former state of relationship with Him. Yes, His chosen nation wavered, wandered and wondered, but God's call wasn't for them to return to a previous state. It was always a call to return to intimate relationship, and to a relationship that would grow and blossom, and be able to handle the unlimited nature of His promise.
Well that promise lives in me and it need not be revived. The Promise seeks encounter. That's the new word.