School officials at Asbury University in Willmore, Kentucky, announced that the chapel-service-turned-revival will formally end this Thursday after over two weeks of services.
Tens of thousands visited Asbury, some reportedly from outside the United States, to attend the revival after news of the around-the-clock service gained international attention.
A few evenings after the first night of continuous worship at Asbury, a couple of students began playing worship songs in Reid Chapel at Samford University in Birmingham. That small gathering grew, and suddenly, many students were singing hymns through the early morning. Just as at Asbury, the gatherings continued for days, with both students and visitors engaging in prayer, singing and quiet contemplation for hours at a time.
Is this genuine revival or just a prolonged worship setlist? David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the late minister of Westminster Chapel in London, defines revival as “a period of unusual blessing and activity in the life of the Christian Church.” It is “an awareness of spiritual things such as they have never had before.”
I am hopefully optimistic that the revival events at Asbury, Samford and other places are genuine. While we can’t know the hearts of those involved, it certainly appears that there is an “increased awareness of spiritual things,” and that God is blessing the church with a desire to worship him regardless of personal schedules.
But what would it look like if genuine revival hit Alabama, making the truth of the Gospel suddenly become real for people, as Lloyd-Jones suggests?
I can tell you what it won’t look like.
It won’t look like excitement about revival sweeping the nation, while we reject faithful church attendance because of our kid’s soccer schedule.
It won’t look like staying up late in a chapel with others but being unwilling to wake early and read God’s Word when no one is watching.
It won’t look like lamenting the sins of our nation only to go home and sin in the habitual ways we’ve silently excused for years.
It won’t look like singing, “It is Well,” with other believers, only to turn our backs on God when things don’t go our way.
It won’t look like praying with tears in our eyes for God to work in our lives, only to tell him “No” when he asks us to do something outside our comfort zones.
It won’t look like hearing God’s command to share the Gospel with our neighbors and people across the world, only to go home, forget about those on a path to Hell, and live a Christian spin on the American dream as if there are no demands for our lives.
It won’t look like hearing the truth of God’s glory and how we are all sinful and in need of grace, only to leave and demonize a person who votes differently than us.
It won’t look anything like that.
It’s important for Christians to admit that religious experiences themselves are not unique. Muslims have the Hajj to Mecca, a unique religious experience, while Hindu mystics offer completely different religious experiences. In fact, religious experiences are as varied as religions themselves.
The mark of a genuine religious experience according to Christianity? Change.
As Christians, change is the natural result of seeing God as good and glorious, while also seeing our sin as evil and deserving of punishment.
After the initial experience where we have an “increased awareness of spiritual things,” as Lloyd-Jones puts it, revival might look like rededicating ourselves and our families to a community of believers.
It might look like establishing a morning routine that involves prayer, reading of God’s Word, and singing.
Revival might look like deciding, with God’s power, to finally put our habitual sins to death, excusing the darkness no more.
It might look like remaining steadfast in the faith and following God’s calling wherever He leads.
It might look like getting more involved in our communities and standing up for what is right, maybe even running for office.
It might look like picking up our families and the comfortable life we’ve established in Alabama and moving to a place we’ve never been to share the Gospel with souls on a path towards an eternity without God.
Revival might look like truly recognizing all humans as valuable and giving up time, money and resources for the relief of the poor and marginalized.
That’s what it might look like.
Last Thursday night, Samford students and visitors sang the following lines from the song “Goodness of God”:
With my life laid down
I'm surrendered now
I give You everything
This! This is what revival in Alabama would look like. Christians statewide giving up their wants and desires for the joy of knowing Jesus and following His plans for our lives.
I’m praying for that revival. I’m praying for a unique blessing of God that results in change in our individual lives and culture so that we honor our King in all we do. Are you?
Parker Snider is the operations manager at 1819 News.
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