We look out upon a broken world and we see the end of days. Really?
We look out at a lukewarm church and we see a church that is destined for eventual collapse. Really?
Yet, we see someone who we love dearly struggle with inner turmoil. They reject God as nonsense. They reject Jesus as a pushover, although I doubt that anyone pushed until Jesus allowed them to push. You know that if they turned to the God that they reject, they will turn their lives into something much better. You don’t scream that their fate is sealed. You pray that as long as there is still breath, there is hope.
What’s the difference? The first two are corporate, the last is personal, one-on-one. I brought up some of this issue in the post, Imprecatory Psalms. It is okay to hate evil, asking God to vanquish it, but when focused on the individual acting out in hate, we should love them and pray that they come to know Jesus. The world’s ills are seen in both lights by the Christian.
But what happens when you have church leaders that bristle when you suggest a pray or only defy the idea of a Bible study at a men’s gathering. Is this church lukewarm or has it moved onto life support? Technically dead, but not buried yet? Does it matter?
It matters to one lost soul, whether he or she admits it, and it matters to those who love him or her. As for the church, there may be others. Don’t focus on the wild child. Focus on the many who are lifting praises to heaven and welcoming constructive discourse on spiritual matters that will uplift the church.
We want the lukewarm church to catch fire with the Holy Spirit or to catch fire, literally, and burn to the ground. We don’t have the patience and the fortitude for greater and more intense prayer that is required to accomplish a true church revival. We need to start on our knees. You say that there aren’t enough people to pray that kind of prayer, but you may be wrong. Elijah felt all alone, but in 1 Kings 19:18, God tells him that there are 7,000 who have not bowed to Baal.
Think of the often-told preacher’s story. It goes like this: Two men are walking along the beach. One bends over, picks up a sand dollar, and throws it into the ocean. After two or three tosses, his friend says, “What are you doing that for? Sand dollars wash ashore all of the time by the hundreds. It doesn’t matter.”
As his friend picks up another one and tosses it, he says, “It matters to this one.”
The preacher usually goes into a sermon about how our little acts of love make a difference in the big picture, but I have never heard a sermon from the sand dollar’s point of view. The sand dollar loves his savior. That love spreads to other sand dollars. Eventually there is a small corner of the ocean that loves a man that they’ve never met before, because their brother was saved.
A revival within the church starts with a single individual spark. As A. W. Tozer wrote in The Size of the Soul, “One consequence of our failure to see clearly the true nature of revival is that we wait for years for some supernatural manifestation that never comes, overlooking completely our own individual place in the desired awakening. Whatever God may do for a church must be done in the single unit, the one certain man or woman. Some things can only happen to the isolated, single person; they cannot be experienced en masse.”
Tozer then gives an example of a hundred babies being born in a city in one day. The statistics don’t reflect it, but to each child born that day, it was a unique experience. So it is with rebirth. Millions have come forward during Billy Graham crusades. To each person, it was a personal conversion, but how many came forward when Mordecai Ham preached in Charlotte, NC in 1934? Ham may have kept records, but one of those converts was Billy Graham. Does that diminish the others who came to know their savior that day? Not in the least, but a small seed can grow into a mighty tree. A large bag of seeds is not necessary to produce one tree. That tree can then produce more seed.
In David Jeremiah’s book, Is This the End?, he tells this story as a small part of the Global Revival of the early 1900s. “At Asbury College, four male students met in a private room to pray, and at ten o’clock that night, ‘the Holy Spirit seemed to enter the room.’ Other students came running, and few slept that night. The next morning, the revival spread over the campus like a tidal wave, and for three days all classes were suspended as students got their lives right with God.”
What do we do when our church needs a wake-up call? If you don’t have three friends willing to pray, get two, get one, or… We get on our knees and wait for someone to join us.