There have been times throughout history that a ‘fresh breeze’ of change, a movement of God has swept a community and sometimes an entire culture. Those that have experienced this often look back at such a time with great nostalgia, especially as they watch society become secular once again. These are times that have been called ‘revival,’ the renewal of a sense of goodness and life. Many Christians have been looking forward to a revival. They’ve been praying and longing for it, planning on it and even prophesying it. Revival was a common theme in the churches in which I grew up and am not maligning in any way such a hope for a fresh renewal.
But truthfully, I don’t think we’re on the edge of a revival.
In fact, I don’t think we even need a revival. I think we need something deeper and more substantial.
We need a reformation.
There’s a big difference between revival and reformation. “Revival” says “give me another shot, a bit of spiritual adrenaline to re-invigor my religious sentiments and ignite my fervor. Tap me back in and give me new life.” Nothing wrong with that at all, but It’s hooked to whatever came before. It’s part of the past.
A reformation is something entirely different. A reformation is a radical change of underlying assumptions. It’s not just a jump start to the engine. It’s a whole new car.
Revivals have done tremendous good, but compared to reformations, they’re pretty low key. People like Martin Luther and John Calvin weren’t revivalists. They were reformers. They knew the Church needed more than a fresh coat of paint—it needed a paradigm shift in its understanding of forgiveness and grace. It needed a reformation.
The good news: I think we’re on the edge of a reformation, if we’re not already being nudged steadily toward it by the Holy Spirit. And this reformation is centered on our knowing and learning to live out the profound and relational goodness of God.
In my lifetime, and history tells us it’s been going on much longer than that, the goodness of God has been suspect and many of us inherited a theology that divorced our spirituality from our humanity.
For example, if the idea of God as a father is less than my longing for what it means to be a father, than my understanding of God as Father is wrong.
And if my desire to be forgiven is greater than God’s capacity to forgive, then my understanding of God is false. If I feel like God requires more mercy and love from me than God is able, than my understanding of God is false. This has profound implications.
We have had revivals, which turned to religion, which we then spread around the world. Our assumptions that there are strings attached to God’s love or that God the Father is a stern, distant and unapproachable dictator or that God is anything less than love have to be challenged and changed at the core. These ideas, which many of us still wrestle with, don’t need a revival. They need a reformation.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. Sometimes it takes quite a while but I do read them and others do as well. If you haven’t already, and would like to, please give us your email at the bottom of this page so we can keep you up to date on our unfolding conversation.
P.S. Thanks so much for all the pre-orders of my new novel, Eve, which isn’t even scheduled to release until September and yet has already climbed into the top 100 books on Amazon. If you’d like to pre-order it, please do so here. I can’t wait to hear what you think.