Religious “awakenings,” or revivals, have punctuated the history of the Christian church. Fired with renewed fervor, believers yearn for purity of conviction and purpose—for a return to the experiences and blessings of the founders of their faith.
So, today, what do we really mean when we call for revival in our church? We are saying that we are not content with the status quo, that we need a clearer understanding of God’s true purpose for both the church and our own lives. We are saying, “Lord, please equip us fully so we can be more effective instruments for Your mission.”
For me, the idea of revival is inextricably linked with mission, action, and community. Consider the aftermath of Pentecost (Acts 2). In the days following this archetypal religious awakening, the followers of Christ were transformed from a motley group of somewhat fearful, uncertain individuals, into a unified, missionfocused, and selfless community, which devoted itself to fellowship, prayer, and caring, in practical ways, for the needs of others (Acts 2:42–45).
True revival cannot be self-focused or inward looking. True revival may start within the four walls of our church, but it will always prompt us to walk outside into a world waiting for the loving touch of the Master.
When we experience true revival within our church, society itself will become the canvas on which we paint the values of Christ—justice, service, honesty, generosity, and compassion for the poor, sick, and orphans. We will become champions of religious freedom, health care, and education.
The revival for which we pray includes nothing less than this: that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the values of the kingdom of God will permeate our lives and relationships. That, in everything we do, we will more clearly reflect the love, practical compassion, and mission of our Lord.
—John Graz, PhD, is director of the Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Department of the Seventh-day Adventist world church, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, and secretary general of the International Religious Liberty Association