For years now, much of the church in America has been praying for and expecting revival. Other countries around the world, especially in South America and Africa, have experienced great revival and this has provoked the United States believers to ask: "Why not us? When will you bring revival to us Lord?"
Without doubt, we are needy for another great spiritual awakening. Particularly since the late 1960s and early 1970's, the moral fabric of our society has been deteriorating. The envelope keeps getting pushed in every arena. Sex. Drugs. Materialism. Alternate lifestyles. Family definitions. Corporate greed. Stewardship over resources. Would any of our Founding Fathers be able to recognize this as the country they formed if they saw it today?
Back in about 1980 I attended the very first "Washington for Jesus" in DC on the Washington Mall grounds. Wow! Was it ever exciting! A couple of hundred thousand people attended and there was electricity in the air. It was there that I heard for the first time the famous "revival" scripture from 2 Chronicles 7:14.
"If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." I wish I had a dollar for every time I've heard it since then; I'd be rich by now. Is there any way this scripture has not been dissected and preached? Is there any stone left unturned in calling God's people to embrace it in order to bring forth the longed for revival?
It seems to me lately, though, like there is a portion of the requirement that is glaringly absent. I mean the "humble" part. Is the church taking the role Jesus took when he washed the disciples' feet? The American church does not appear to be on her hands and knees serving anyone. Instead I see gloating, self righteousness, arrogance and pride.
I began to notice this after the Presidential election last November. The news media has largely attributed the final outcome of the election to what they call the "Religious Right." Christians of many camps all around the country got behind George W. Bush because they felt he better represented their moral views. There were voting drives and prayer meetings and an enormous push to re-elect the President.
Afterward, we all viewed the country a new way; the red states and the blue states. The President did not just squeak by like he did the first time. He won the popular vote and the electoral vote. He beat his opponent soundly - a mandate they all said. There was a victory celebration and a deep sigh of relief. But there was something else. I saw the beginnings of a haughty spirit.
It is one thing to dance a victory dance and another to try to force your opposition to an unending diet of humble pie. What happened to the concept of being a gracious winner? I've heard conservative TV talk show hosts revel in what they delightfully see as a crushing defeat of the Democratic Party. I've heard these comments; "In case you hadn't noticed, WE WON." "Now are you going to admit you were wrong to align yourselves with the Hollywood set? I've seen some nasty smirks on faces and some pretty pompous pundits. It reminds me a lot of what we used to do as children with our little sing song; Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah.
Well, that's the secular world, you might say; that is not the church. Unfortunately I see the same things in the church. I am seeing many spiritual leaders in the Christian church being interviewed with a self satisfied smugness on their face. I see gloating. I hear arrogant comments. I often hear an agenda to crush the "enemy" further in order to establish a return to the founding principles of this country.
I want a return to righteousness too, but does self righteousness serve that goal? In Isaiah 65, God is discussing the rebellious heart of his people, Israel. He talks about those who say in their heart; "Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am holier than you!" (Verse 5) I believe that's where we get the phrase, "holier than thou" and that attitude has gained ground in American Christianity.
Listen to what Proverbs 16:18 says; "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall" and Proverbs 29:23 says; "Before his downfall a man's heart is proud, but humility comes before honor."
If we truly want revival for this nation we might tuck our haughtiness away and drop to our knees. We might pick up a towel and start praying for and serving those so called "enemies." Remember that Jesus washed even the feet of Judas, his betrayer. We are not holier than anybody; we are simply sinners saved by grace. It's time we stopped swaggering around.
Can we kill our chance of revival? I believe God has heard the multitude of prayers which has gone up for America over the years. I believe God wants to send us revival but we must re-learn and practice the "IF" clause. What is that? "IF My people who are called by My name will humble themselves…"