“In many parts, and many ways, God of old having spoken to the fathers in the prophets, in these last days did speak to us in a Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He did make the ages;” –Young Translation Hebrews 1:1-2
Plethora of Pinatas
There are so many camps of christian thought these days it makes my head spin.
There are camps of repentance and deliverance that lead you through renouncing everything you have done and your great-great-grandfathers father did, and even beyond.
There are healing ministries that take you through the father-ladder exercise and forgiveness depending heavily on a “prophetic” sort of counseling metric utilizing tools developed by Evangelistic leaders world renowned, Sozo, Theophostic, inner healing, transformational, deliverance even to the point that one well known teacher is suggesting that a lot of our problems (in very difficult un-healed cases) are actually AHS or “Alien human Spirits”…an idea I am not quick to dismiss simply because I haven’t seen the data…
Add to this the land prayers, the political discourse and then the issues of empire and hierarchy models that are waning in the West (especially where young people are leaving the traditional church in droves), missional discourse with the APEST argument and pagan influence along with a return to Hebraic roots you end up with a pretty hefty landscape of diversity and dislocated unity.
We haven’t even mentioned the denominational flagships, let alone the huge cultural shifts that are hitting the shores like a tsunami of relevance…same sex marriage, immigration, young earth models and inerrancy of scripture…toss in the new mystics and the drive for the supernatural and the redistribution of wealth and you’ve pretty much summed it up as a storm in a tea-cup.
All of these camps I have read, waded into the stream and listened for an echo of something larger than life…unfortunately there seems to be a sound-track blaring over all of them much like elevator music and I have to say, it is very much like elevator “muzak”…you know the sound where they take a classic rock and roll song and morph it into pre-packaged sensible pop instrumental music with a dash of new age synths and compression so people don’t object.
“Born to be wild” played on a clavinova…
This soundtrak I am referring to is the “sound of revival”…
Before you get all “Mark is wounded or on crack” on me, please hear me out…
I have prayed for revival…fasted for it…done the land prayers and walked for it…repented til there was nothing between me and Adam except a fig leaf…I have earnestly desired and continue to believe for revival and revival culture.
But I also grew up hearing that Jesus was coming any day now, as a matter of fact , most people I knew felt He was running late, we had the “Late Great Planet Earth” as evidence of why he had 88 reasons to come back in 1988 which of course got revised and resold next year…my point is I am very familiar with hearing a repetitive motif and recognizing it as such. I have since those days revised my eschatology to come more in line with he early church fathers perspective and frankly those guys had it wrong as well, Jesus did not come back for them either…
A Pack of Painful Paradigms
I distinctly recall sitting under Bob Mumford when he preached a message entitled “What if He doesn’t come back” and the stunning paradigm shift that happened left me wondering if the eschatology dooms-day-device I had grown so familiar with was even a christian idea to begin with…(most of it is not by the way)…later I would argue with my Uncle (an AG Pastor) that the word “rapture” wasn’t even IN the Bible…and the anti-Christ never even made it into the book of Revelation..I’ve stopped arguing its not worth the effort.
Here’s my point…much of the ambient background noise we take for granted in our church culture is never even questioned…but having had to face real doubts when people I loved died when healing was clearly promised I stopped ignoring my doubts and started wading into them head first…
For the last 10 years I have followed (and then followed up on) all the major prophets with viable voice in the body, (you would recognize all of them)…I have intentionally gone back 2-3 years and further and check what they prophesied for the next year and see what percentage of it has come to pass…it is not an exercise for the faint-hearted charismatic…I do not recommend it, honestly I don’t, and I refuse to say anything further about it, it is not a conversation any of us are ready for, especially not me.
There is good and bad in all aspects of our current church culture, lets not be naive.
But what if revival is a conversation God does not want to have? What if the only time we really get the “revival” thing happening is because God finally submits to our demands and because He loves us so much He sends us the inferior portion we refuse to do without, simply because He wants to partner and since we won’t listen to Him, He shuts up and gives us what we demand?
A real conversation
Here’s why I am suggesting this line of thinking…
When we believe that God was somehow incomplete in what He did in the incarnation, the life, the death and the resurrection we might possibly be having a conversation of insult rather than one of maturity, to demand revival in our terms might be an insult to the fact that the greatest deposit God could give us has already been given INSIDE us now.
Is it possible that our expectation of revival, whatever you take that to mean, is a misplaced desire for something LESS than what Gods word says He has already provided?
When I got filled with the Spirit at age 8 I was taught to “tarry” for it…but now we don’t teach that way…did we ever need to tarry for it, or was it a conversation God had already had on the day of Pentecost?
Do you know how many people prior to me and up to my generation “tarried” for hours to receive something that had already been given?
Peanut Butter Parable
My granddaughter Micheala loves peanut butter and honey sandwiches, so much so that she will almost NOT eat anything else…to be perfectly honest there are times when we cave in to a four-year-olds demands and give her what she wants simply because she is so strong willed she will not eat at all unless we feed her this sandwich. This will not continue, and we are not proud of the fact, it is just the current fact…here’s my point, you cannot convince her now at this stage in her life that there are much better things than peanut butter and honey sandwiches, and she refuses to even have the conversation since she has no real experience outside of forced encounters with other food…what if revival is just a peanut butter sandwich we’ve been demanding?
Hebrews 1 will say that God in these last days has spoken to us through His Son…and I take that to mean not simply the things Jesus said, but Jesus himself WAS the conversation…Jesus is what God thinks about you, what He wants to say to you, and exactly what He wants to do in you and I don’t see or hear any thing in the life of Jesus where he is begging for revival.
What if the Father has a much better conversation in mind and we simply cannot get over our fascination with our version of the way we think? How long does He wait, or better yet how long do we wait? It took 2000 years for the Law to prove it could not make us perfect and we still like to believe it can another 2000 years past the fact.
Did no one else notice the tremendous destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD that pretty much said we are done with that, if you have any doubts lets just get rid of the entire system?
Drowning in a Shallow Gospel
I once heard a famous intellectual describe the silliness of the Exodus by claiming that the Red Sea was only 6″ deep at the time of the crossing…but the logic that he failed to apply was the destruction of Pharaohs entire army in water only puddle deep…
Much of what I have been involved in seems to be resurrecting Pharohs army, if Jesus made an open show of principalities and powers and he has in fact triumphed then why on earth do we spend so much effort fighting a defeated foe, let alone AHS’s..?
Is this a conversation that God has already had with us and we simply refuse to eat it because we only want peanut butter and honey sandwiches?
I am not suggesting that I know the answer, all I am doing is pointing out the music in the elevator…it sounds very familiar…it was the same song they played at the last conference and the one before that, it is the same melody we heard in the 90’s but played on a different synthesizer…heck I remember versions of this song that rocked a lot more than the current version does and if you listen you will know what I am saying is true…this big revival, the one to end all revivals….the one we’ve all been waiting for…
But what if revival is a peanut butter and honey sandwich and God wants to feed us a feast? There is no call to pray for revival in the writings of the Apostles…I don’t find it in the book of Acts…but what I do see is a very long conversation that God has been having with humanity and the main emphasis of heaven is completely on the finished work of Jesus and the mystery now revealed ‘Christ IN us”…
He’s your Daddy, cry enough and he will give you a sandwich…but the conversation HE wants to have is sonship on a level that a revival sandwich might be an insult to.
We all want to see our culture change, but maybe it is impossible to change on the diet we are demanding…what if creation is groaning waiting for the manifestation of sons and not revival?
Again let me remind you that I know I don’t know the answer…but I think its important we start asking the questions…
What if real revival was simply an awareness of the God inside us who promised to never leave us, the truth would be an adjustment in us and not on His part…what if John Lake and Smith Wigglesworth and William Seymour and Aimee Semple McPherson and Kathryn Kuhlman were all simply sons and daughters who discovered it?
Or just the beginning…