Thursday, March 25, 2021

American Revival?

A popular view often voiced today is that what the church and society need is “revival.” Amen! A little revival would be great. However, there is a twist, for it seems that the heart and focus of this idea is “revival” in the United States of America. If mentioned at all, the other nations of the earth are an afterthought.

Globe Asia - Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash
[Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash]

This rather narrow view is compounded by the practice of popular preaching to conflate and even identify American society with the church. As one U.S. minister wrote, “I was asked if I thought God was going to bring judgment or revival to America. I paused for a moment and replied, ‘Both.’ God is going to bring revival to His people, and it will either come by choice or by circumstance. We are at a crossroads as a nation and as the church. The choices we make today will determine our future.”


So, when did America - its government, society, and culture - become identical with the church of Jesus Christ and the Christian faith? And when did “revival” become centered in if not only concerned with that nation?

Does God only intend to bring “judgment or revival” to America’s shores? Why do we expect “revival” and “judgment” to begin in the United States and not in, say, India or China?

For that matter, the New Testament teaches that “judgment must begin with the house of God.” Or has popular preaching assumed that the United States of America IS the “house of God”?

Jesus commanded his genuine disciples to preach the gospel of HIS kingdom to “ALL nations,” not just to the USA or western “civilization.” When he returns in glory, only one “kingdom” will be left standing, and that will not be the USA, the European Union, Canada, China, France, or the United Kingdom.

The mission of proclaiming his gospel is NOT about restoring or fixing America, or for that matter, Russia, Germany, Japan, etc. No, the gospel of Jesus Christ is about the “kingdom of God” and the redemption of men and women from every nation.

However good, bad, or indifferent the United States of America is - or any other nation or culture for that matter - one day it will cease to exist. Jesus warns us not to work “for the meat that perishes,” and that is precisely what we do when we spend our time and energies on things and institutions that will not endure. As Paul put it, the things of this present age “are passing away.”


In popular preaching, where is there any discussion about what God has done ALREADY in, for example, China, where despite opposition and occasional persecution, the church has grown enormously with estimates of conversions ranging between 70 million and 300 million?

This rapid growth of the faith in China has occurred in a non-western and non-democratic nation where ACTUAL persecution is a reality, and without any “revival” imported from the churches of North America.

God can achieve His purposes whenever and wherever He pleases, using large or tiny groups of people. For Him, opposition from an oppressive government is no obstacle. Who are we to say that He cannot begin the next great “revival” in China, Iran, or Russia?

The church began when God poured out His Spirit on a small group of 120 Aramaic and Greek-speaking disciples in Jerusalem. Yet it was through that small beginning that He inaugurated a movement that “turned the world upside down.”

Perhaps next time He will begin by pouring out His Spirit on the tiny population of Tristan de Cunha, the world’s most remote populated island, just to confound our human wisdom and expectations.

Many preachers claim we are history’s “last generation,” the one that will see Jesus arrive in glory. Let us hope so! However, that will NOT happen if we do not return to the task Jesus assigned to us, and get rather busy about it, too!

Jesus was clear - The “end” will not come until “this gospel of the kingdom is proclaimed to ALL the nations of the earth.” Whether revival comes, judgment certainly will, and it will begin at the “house of God.”

And just to be clear, that means the church of Jesus Christ is comprised of men and women redeemed from every nation and people on the earth. This is far bigger than the United States of America. It is about the kingdom of God, not just one or a few nations.