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A New Revival ?

Many christians seek revival. But are half of us are seeking revival rather than seeking the Lord, the Living God? Even though we 'seek the Lord', deep down is it as a means by which we hope to obtain revival? The companion page on Why Revival Occurs discusses some characteristics of revival. This page works out these characteristics in response to the new situation of our human responsibility for the planet.

Contents of this page:

Why Revival Needed

Because major problems require a change in the heart of people, not just government action nor economic incentives.

Climate change is one of the major, and most obvious, current issues. God has sent warning after warning during the 1980s and 1990s that humanity is not treating the rest of creation properly. Now climate change faces us, very visibly, as a future disaster. Yet we, humanity, including 'Christian' humanity, do not take it seriously. We seem unable to take it seriously, trapped in our ways of thinking and seeing the world (our world-views).

In the USA, George Bush (reputed Christian) refused to take climate change seriously for a long time, and even now (15 March 2008) he (his government) clings onto technological solutions. In his heart he does not take CC seriously. In the UK, the Blair government (1997-2007), though they spoke a lot about climate change, supported the expansion of air travel and road-building, and abolished the fuel-duty price escalator. At the heart of the UK government is an idol! They boasted of their target to supply 15% of UK's electricity by renewal energy but yesterday a prestigious report calculated that we might not achieve even a mere 5%. Out of the heart emerge the real action! Scientists have told us for a decade that we must cut climate change emissions by 60% by 2050, and now say we need 80% cut - yet today it was reported that Tony Blair is trying for a mere 50% cut. In the heart of Tony Blair is not courage but reluctance! It's not just the government; but the ordinary (Western) people too: the 1980s saw a fashion for economy cars - but this soon evaporated as SUVs and other gas-guzzlers became the fashion and have remained so. The heart of the people was not changed! India and China, with their growing economies, aspire to the Western standard of living (and hence climate change emissions and other environmental destruction). The heart of the people is not changed!

This lack of change in the heart of the people is not often blatant nor overt. It manifests itself in the little things, the small decisions we make, and the following example shows: the decisions by those with 'enough' ignoring those without:

In July 2013 Toronto has its worst floods for 100 years, and many areas had their power cut. But, as reported in the Metro for 11th July 2013, page 4, "While many west-end Torontonians were without power Tuesday, air conditioners hummed and lights burned all night downtown, despite pleas from Mayor Rob Ford and Toronto Hydro to conserve power. Seeing power wasted while others went without raised the ire of residents like Anna Tripic, whose neighbourhood wet of High Park was blacked out ... 'I was appalled by the intensity and overuse of power by billboards and offices that left lights overnight,' she wrote to Metro."

For any hope of reducing climate change emissions, we need a deep change of heart among both government and people. The kind of heart-change that only a Holy-Spirit-led revival can bring about. A transformation of the way we see things (Rom. 12:2), a re-orientation or our hearts to God and away from ourselves, to God's Cosmic Plan and away from our small, partial or selfish purposes. And this in a large number of people, at all levels.

I have recently met with people from Ashton Heyes community. They have turned their community round towards environmental responsibility. According to (an extreme version of) my theology this should not be possible because they are not (knowingly) driven and effective by the Spirit of God. So I have to ask: why is revival necessary? I am still thinking this out; God knows, I don't. However, I will say the following. There are those who are for our message and those who are against it - and those in the middle. These latter are the majority, and might be the half-hearted ones find those against our message a convenient excuse (even though they might not realise what they are doing) to do nothing, or to do less than is called for. Reason and community activity might not touch these half-hearted ones. But the revival work of God's Spirit might can touch half-hearted people and give them a new heart. That might be why revival is needed.

Is Revival Possible?

We puny humans cannot bring about revival. Revival is, they say truly, the province of God, who is Sovereign. But let us not take a fatalistic attitude. Elsewhere, I have reflected on Why Revival Happens (part of my pages inspired by my Christian beliefs). It (tentatively) sets out a number of conditions and characteristics of revivals. Let us see to what extent these conditions pertain today.
Characteristic or Condition of Revival Today
Revival is Always Surprising
(because God knows and we don't how our situation differs from previous ones)
Cuts across conventional thinking Introduces a 'new view'.
Cuts across conventional expectations Life in Christ is one of loving responsibility to all the rest of creation.
Addresses the deep orientation or attitudes of the heart That we, all human beings, are responsible to God for how we treat the rest of creation, because we represent God.
Involves unexpected people
To unexpected people
The Situation is Important
(because God is loves the world, not just individuals)
Addresses real problems in society (not just our spiritual relationship with God). Irresponsible disregard for rest of creation: climate change, pollution, etc.
There is an underlying yearning, which people do not know - the usual commentators do not see it, yet most people would admit to feeling if they were made aware of it. That we are all responsible under God for the Planet is an intuition that many would share, and yearn to fulfil.
Speaks not directly to the problems, but to the heart, challenging attitudes that lie beneath these problems. Challenges our individualism, our aspiration to Western lifestyles, our living-for-ourselves rather than for God's Cosmic Plan in Christ.
But in ways we do not expect - not analysing explicitly the real underlying attitudinal problem, nor challenging people to change their surface ways, but rather challenging the surface manifestations of the underlying problem yet prompting solutions that speak to underlying orientation of the heart. Draws attention to environmental degradation as surface manifestations of, and challenges, the deeper attitude above.
The Message
(because God is Truth and has provided The Way of Salvation)
Take God seriously God as creator who gave us responsibility to shepherd the rest of creation.
We are guilty (evidence of the problem) We damage the rest of creation, we accede to doing so, and we do so for trivial, selfish reasons like "I am entitled to fly to holidays three times a year" or "The West has a nice lifestyle; we are entitled to it too".
But it is our attitude of heart that is the real problem (our rebellion against God) The Fall.
We cannot solve the problems ourselves. See above for examples - our hearts are deceitful and full of idols.
Turn to Jesus Christ Rich Redemption - Romans 8 revisisted.
This relates to ordinary people and their ordinary lives Of course.
Myriad practical illustrations, stories, testimonies To be given.
Does not just appease our feelings, but challenges while affirming us: "You are responsible to God". We are called to represent God to the rest of creation.
To Ordinary People
(because God values all alike while we come to ignore some)
Those outside, who do not take God seriously Ordinary people who have a fear for the future; disenchanted New Agers; 'green' people.
Those without power or resources Those who want to do something, "but what can I do?"
Those who have this underlying yearning that they do not know. Ordinary people who fear the future.
God Uses Unexpected People to Lead Revival
(because human status is nothing to God)
Not the leaders of established religion (because of their pride or affluence)
Nor those who see themselves as contributing to it (because their world-view blinds them) Those who see 'preaching the gospel' or 'spiritual warfare' or 'keeping the doctrine once delivered' or 'protecting family values' as obliterating ever other concern - they will not be leaders in this revival.
Nor even those who are seeking God (because they are thinking in the wrong way and have wrong expectations for revival - and probably they are too focused on the spiritual and not enough on the world God loves) Those who seek revival almost for its own sake, or who attend conferences on revival.
But unexpected people, who think differently, see the world in a different way. Who are they? Where are they? Be humbly bold, people of God!
HOWEVER, God does allow all the others to be involved and to contribute to the revival if they wish, once those he uses to lead it have set the direction. Church leaders, Church committees, Christian writers, Christian Ecology Link, John Ray Initiative (in the UK), and many others.
God
(The One from whose hand revival and salvation comes)
is Just: So we might expect revival to occur in each and every part of the world before Christ comes a second time. See the opportunities for God's people in China. Similar for India, Russia, Middle East.
is Sovereign: But we cannot be bound by that. So, if Western people turn to Christ in absolute repentance and willing to take on this New View, then there might be revival in North America, Europe, Scandanavia, Britain, etc.
has a Cosmic Plan: Revival is big to us, but not big to God; it is only a tiny part of his Plan (viz. why he created, why he created us, why he came, why he saves). See a new view of God's Cosmic Plan.
is Love: Bigger to God is that humanity shepherds the rest of creation as he would, with agape-love. This is what the New View is all about.
So don't seek revival; rather, seek God's Cosmic Plan. Seek, instead, to turn your heart and your understanding towards this New View.

But How

I believe that the New View might be key to more effective evangelism among certain groups of people today (at least in the developed world). God it is who gives revival but he won't do so if we are complacent and doing nothing. How might we begin? Some very practical ideas may be found under 'green gospel, in a draft evangelistic talk and a structured personal presentation.
These pages present 'New View' theology. Comments, queries welcome.

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Copyright (c) Andrew Basden 2008-, but you may copy this page as long as every copy includes this full copyright notice, and the copying is not for financial gain.

Created: 15 March 2008. Last updated: 24 July 2008 links to gg.html. 20 May 2009 half-hearted and Ashton. 16 August 2009 seeking revival. 17 August 2013 Toronto floods heart not changed. 28 February 2015 better intro, with link to first head too.