Ronald Olson -
We are now some 50 years removed from what most people consider the last true nationwide revival in America—the Jesus People Movement. According to best estimates, over 3 million people were brought into the Kingdom during the life of this movement. It was a much-needed shot of Holy Spirit-life in the church.
The revival began in the late '60s and continued into the 1970s. It happened in the midst of a season of social upheaval in America, and resulted in an upheaval in the Church itself. Suddenly, the Church had to take a hard look at how (or if) it was impacting the culture of this nation.
Current worldwide movements such as Calvary Chapel and The Vineyard Churches were birthed during this time. It brought legitimacy to contemporary Christian music, and church services and church music, which hadn’t changed for years, if not decades, began to change. Worship times in church began to become praise-filled, embracing and celebrating the goodness of God.
But how did all of that happen?
The late '60s was a time of tremendous unrest in America. Racial tensions were high. Anti-war protests filled the streets. The sexual revolution was well underway and drug use became commonplace among young people. Anti-establishment rhetoric was voiced from every conceivable venue, and became most apparent when the hippie culture captured the attention (and hearts) of the American youth. The message at the time was clear. They just wanted to pull away and live in “love and peace.”
And the Church didn't know what to do.
The most common response by the Church was a shaking of the head, a pointing of the finger, and a proclamation of condemnation and judgment against anyone who would live in such an “ungodly way.” Most never thought to ask God what He might want to do in that situation.
But a few Christians did ask, and God's word to them was clear. They weren't supposed to speak judgment over these people. They were to go out into the streets and demonstrate God's love toward these lost youth, showing them the true Love and Peace they were so desperately seeking. The results were nothing short of miraculous, as young people began to fill the churches, first in California and quickly spreading throughout the country and beyond. Revival had come.
Today, we find ourselves in much the same situation as in the late '60s. America is divided as never before. Racial tensions are a continual problem. We're in the midst of another sexual revolution. We're still fighting wars that few people understand. And we know that politicians and laws do not hold the answer.
So we look to heaven and ask, “Lord, what are we to do?”
When Jesus encountered unbelievers who were hurting, He didn't rail against their sin. He knew they were being deceived by the enemy, and He moved in compassion. He demonstrated His love for them by healing them and offering to set them free from their captivity.
Can we do anything less?
America desperately needs a true revival. But it's not going to come if we simply sit in the church and wait. Romans 2:4 tells us that it's “the goodness of God that leads to repentance.” Those around us who are lost, who are held captive by the enemy, will only see God's goodness when we, as Christians, show them His love. The good news is, God has equipped each of us to do just that.
So as you pray, crying out to God to “send revival to our nation,” don't be surprised if Father replies, “OK. I'll send you.”