Things are a mess in the SBC right now, aren’t they? I don’t think I have to argue that.
- The convention held its breath for 13 hours yesterday while the trustees of SWBTS debated the future of Dr. Paige Patterson as president. Their decision is a matter of debate throughout the SBC and few are fully satisfied. I am an old-fashioned old-fogey and I believe in the “trust the trustees” mantra. They did not reach the decision I’d have wished for but they had information I do not and I am willing to yield to their wisdom.
- Social media is a hot mess. The hostility, the crassness, the profane and degrading things that are being said on Twitter, Facebook, and other such outlets are shocking. It is as if people have embraced the works of the flesh and rejected the fruit of the Spirit. The political tactics of some have been shocking during this political season.
- In recent days we have been made aware of several stories of key leaders whose sexual sin has been exposed and has cost them their positions. Is it wrong to assume that those who have been exposed may be the tip of the immorality iceberg? Will more adulterers and predators be exposed?
In all of this we hear the plea, “Lord, send a revival.” Who wouldn’t want that? I love to read of the Great Awakenings, the Welsh Revival, the Prayer Revival of 1858, even the Jesus People movement of the late 60s. We can all hope such a thing would happen. Pray for it. Long for it.
But revival is not a magical solution that absolves us of our responsibilities to do right, to seek God, and to walk in his ways. We don’t walk in the flesh and then call out, “Lord, send a revival.” If we want to pray for a revival, we must take up our responsibilities as the Body of Christ.
1. We must walk in holiness before a lost world.
The world is watching us as we communicate. Last night, a frequent commenter here sent a vile and vicious message to the Ft. Worth reporter who was faithfully and accurately reporting all that was happening with the trustees in Ft. Worth. He called her names and closed expressing his extreme contempt for her. What a witness.
We must stop showing the world the worst of who we are. We do not operate in a vacuum. When we write angry words, the world sees. When we fail to walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit and live out the fruit of the Spirit, the world sees. Our witness is tarnished and the name of our Savior is diminished in the eyes of the world. If you want to pray for revival, you must walk (and talk) in holiness before a lost world.
2. We pray that God will purify his people.
We cannot be a sexually immoral people and expect the great blessing of God.
How old-fashioned that sounds. I don’t know how many of our pastors, professors, and other leaders are walking in sexual sin – whether consensual or predatory – but if it is 1% or 10% it is too many. It is sad every time one we love and respect is exposed in sin, but it is not a tragedy. It is a step forward. Perhaps God is purifying his church.
Lord, do it. Shine the light of truth on every lie. Every pastor, every leader who abuses his authority, who is cheating, who is adulterous or abusive – shine light on that darkness.
In every revival God begins with sinners being brought to their knees. May it happen.
3. We must seek personal growth, spiritual power, and personal revival.
Don’t pray for revival if you are not first seeking personal revival. Personal revival is nothing more than repentance, walking in the Spirit instead of the flesh, obedience, sanctification – all of those things.
4. If you really want to “change the SBC” – focus on your local church.
If we are going to change the SBC we need to….
When people answer that question we usually focus on changing something or someone on the national level. Elect this person. Change that entity. Undo this trustee action. Start that effort. But the SBC is a convention of churches and our strength is not primarily in our national entities but in our local churches. You want to change the SBC? Redouble your efforts at your church. Preach the word. Evangelise the community. When you strengthen your church you strengthen the convention.
5. If you want revival, lay down your arms.
You cannot be an agent of revival and an agent of God in the SBC and also be an agent of schism. There are always going to be some who put themselves outside the boundaries of unity, who as divisive elements have to be treated according to Titus 3:10 (have nothing to do with them). But that is a last resort, not a first response. We need to be bridge builders, people of grace, forgivers, lovers, agents of God’s unity. We need to remember that God sent his Son to die for One Body and we should give ourselves to the unity of the Body – every form of unity including racial unity, socio-economic unity, and theological unity within the boundaries of the BF&M.
We simply cannot continue to bite and devour and then pretend to call out for revival.
Maybe God will revive us again. That’s his business. But if we will walk in holiness, seek purity, grow personally, build our churches, and lay down our arms, we will begin to build a better SBC by the power of the Living God. We will be a revived people whether that revival we all pray for ever comes.
So, pray for revival all you want. But if you do, realize that praying for revival obligates you to LIVE for revival as well.