I love the Dummies series of books – the idea is pure genius! Take a seemingly complex subject that you want to grasp and make it accessible, non-threatening and enjoyable. I remember years ago buying ‘Windows for Dummies’ and immediately felt a giddy sense of power that at last I could use my PC to its full. That’s what needs to be done for the subject of spiritual revival. There is so much written and spoken on revival that you can be tempted to feel you have to be an expert before you experience the real thing for yourself!
Someone needs to write a manual entitled ‘Revival for Dummies’. I checked on Amazon and no one has done it yet. But wait up! Help is at hand because that is exactly what Jesus taught – spiritual revival for the non-expert. At the core of Jesus’ teaching was the idea that no matter who you are and how much you may feel you are the ‘wrong person’ standing ‘on the outside’, you are actually closer than you think to participating in a move of God’s Spirit. What can we learn from the gospels about Jesus’ approach?
Come as you are
Our first great observation is that Jesus took people just as he found them – the hurting, the broken, and the outcast. He met them in their need and revived them. The only condition seems to be what we might call brokenness. The people who experienced spiritual breakthrough and blessing had humble, open hearts and were ready to receive.
Jesus began his teaching in the Sermon on the Mount by declaring that the kingdom of heaven belonged to people he referred to as, ‘the poor in spirit’ (Matthew 5:3). Nothing could be simpler and more accessible than this amazing invitation from Jesus that whoever we are, whatever we have done, we are welcome to come to him as we are without being turned away or expected to jump through religious hoops to get to him.
Such humble people never went away from the presence of Jesus without experiencing life-changing encounter. So Jesus took people as they were but didn’t leave them there. This is the essence of what we call revival. In Mark chapter 5 we read the story of a desperate man who was being tormented by thousands of demons. He lived alone in the mountains, crying out and cutting himself with torment. Yet when Jesus appeared on the scene this same man falls prostrate before him and in a moment Jesus sets him completely free.
Revival is not primarily a special series of meetings or a religious movement but an encounter with Jesus that spreads like fire. It is the invasion of Jesus’ presence touching hearts and lives and transforming them forever.
Walk in His fullness
The people who sustained an intimate experience of revival power were those who having encountered Jesus, walked with him. They became his followers, his disciples. We think automatically of his 12 special disciples but there were multitudes more who pursued their relationship with him even though they did not physically accompany him in his travels.
The man who was delivered from the legion of demons wanted to travel with Jesus but Jesus actually told him to go home! He said, ‘Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you’ (Mark 5:19). This man became a follower of Jesus and took the blessing into everyday life with him. This is how revival spreads – when people who have been touched by Jesus overflow to others around them.
What about you?
Are you prepared to come to Jesus as you are and receive all he has for you?
He absolutely promises to fill the hungry with good things and sustain them with His presence forever.
Tony founded and leads LifeSpring Church in Wolverhampton. Founded in 1998 by a small group of Christians under his and his wife, Ursula, leadership. Today the church has grown to 300 members and continues to grow and expand touching lives and communities.
Originally from Essex, Tony had been pastoring in West Yorkshire when God redirected him and his family to move to Wolverhampton to establish a ministry base from which to reach the world with the love and goodness of God. He is passionate about pursuing the presence of God and taking the message of restoration and revival to the nations.
Tony is a regional leader for the Global Legacy, a relational network of revival leaders out of Bethel Church Redding, CA.