Did you catch that in the title? Clever, huh?
I’m sure you’ve heard of the “wells of revival,” but seldom do I hear about people talk about the walls that revival often build. In my last post here, I talked about swimming in different streams and how we desperately need to seek out different people with different experiences. The health of the church needs it.
One thing that inevitably happens when we stay in one stream too long is we begin thinking that God can only work where we are. I do and yes, you do too. You think that way. Don’t be too offended, because it’s natural. That’s where we begin to erect the walls of revival.
Tear Down This Wall
As we spend more time investing in one church, one denomination or one school of theological thought, we end up with more to lose if things don’t work out as we had hoped. No one likes to lose investments, so we protect them. In church, we begin to erect protective walls around us so that if God is going to move in our city, He can only do it through us. We won’t let anyone else in, and many times, we actively crusade to keep others out.
I have seen this first-hand on several occasions. People who at one time in their life who have labored in prayer for revival with passion. They have listened to all the right teachings, attended all the right prayer meetings and they have given their money to all the right ministries. They started out with great zeal, but as time went by they became disillusioned by the lack of revival that they prayed and labored for.
Some fall away, disenchanted with God’s apparent lack of concern for how much they want revival. They probably don’t leave the church entirely, but they lose any steam they once had for revival. Others keep believing that God will bring revival, and most often they are the ones with clear prophetic words that He will do it.
Whether those prophetic words of revival are from God or not is irrelevant. Over time, they become real in those peoples’ minds. What is relevant, however, is what they choose to do with those prophecies. Are those prophetic words about revival in their city for the city or for them?
Many I have talked to can’t see the distinction, but it needs to become very clear to us if God is truly going to move among us. If we believe that God has spoken to us that revival will come to our city through us and us alone, we will be a danger and a hindrance to God actually moving through revival. We actually erect walls of revival when we believe this. It makes us defensive, bitter, mean-spirited and cold to what God may truly be doing through someone else.
I have personally seen people who have labored for years in prayer for revival work tirelessly to shut down other churches through lies, gossip and intimidation, just to keep them from being a possible outlet of revival they can’t control. I have seen church politics run amuck in an effort to control how and where the Lord can move.
Now I will admit that there may certainly be times that other churches and pastors should be confronted if they are teaching heresy that will lead others in a city away from Jesus, but I have rarely seen that. What I have witnessed is pastors and leaders trying to shut down other works to keep them from getting any of the credit from God’s prophesied revival.
The problem is that more often than not in the Bible, those who labored for God’s move were never the ones to see it with their own eyes. Abraham longed for what he never saw. Moses never entered the promised land, he was only allowed to see it just before he died. David was rejected by God as the man to build the temple. Jeremiah had to witness the destruction of Jerusalem because no one would listen to him, but he prophesied about its rebuilding.
These men are some of the greatest human examples we have in scripture, but they did not inherit what they labored for. They have something else in common, though. They all knew that they weren’t going to inherit the promises they were given, but they continued to labor just as hard for them.
Abraham never lost faith, even though he was told his people wouldn’t inherit the land for over 400 years. Moses continued to lead the Israelites faithfully right up until the point of his death, even though God had promised him he would never enter the land. David was not deterred by God telling him he wouldn’t build the temple. Instead, David spent the rest of his life and wealth storing up all that would be needed to build it after he was dead. Jeremiah remained faithful in the midst of almost total rejection because he knew that even though they were under God’s discipline, the Lord loved Israel above all else.
Life Beyond Ourselves
What about you? Does revival have to come through you? If you have labored in prayer for God’s great move, must He use you for you to be satisfied? Or will you labor for revival even if you never see it or taste it? Is God worthy of you spending your life for something you may not get to enjoy?
Let’s become people who labor for revival even if it comes to a church or ministry across town who has never prayed one day for it. When God answers our prayers through someone else, let’s bless God and bless them. Instead of working against revival that doesn’t come through us, let’s ask God for it no matter who gets the credit.
When we choose to live like that, we stand on some very powerful shoulders.