1a. renewed attention to or interest in something
1b. a new presentation or publication of something old
1c. a period of renewed religious interest OR an often highly emotional evangelistic meeting or series of meetings
–“Revival.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/revival. Accessed 13 Dec. 2021.
In winter 2020 and the end of 2019, many Christians were excited. There was a big game coming up. The Kansas City Chiefs were slated to play against the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl. Multiple church leaders had prophesied that the Kansas City Chiefs would win the game and that their victory would be a sign that an end times revival is on the way.
Anyone who was brought up like me, where the Pentecostals and the Evangelicals and the Nondenominationals somehow intersect, knows about revival. Your church has probably been praying for revival for years.
I was taught that revival would be this huge spiritual awakening–The Fourth Great Awakening–when the Holy Spirit sweeps through America, changing people’s hearts, lives, and behaviors and changing American culture as a whole. Ideally, people would be convicted of their sin and turn to seek the Lord with their whole hearts. It would be a movement of awakening, repentance, and transformation. Signs and wonders would be ever present.
It didn’t happen.
At least not in that way.
I have always been someone who believed that God would answer my prayers in whichever way They chose to. In this context, this means that if God chose to bring revival and a move of Their Spirit, They will do it Their way.
While I can’t say for sure whether or not a traditional revival has taken place, I can say that another movement is taking place: that of deconstruction.
Deconstruction is happening in places where American Christianity has become entangled with politics and culture wars. Where the Lord’s name has been used to advance particular motives. Where a mythic narrative of a great nation is more important than an honest one.
Many young people are seeing these inconsistencies and distancing themselves from the church as an institution, whether permanently or only for a while. One social media account (@thenewevangelicals on Instagram) brings to light all of the ways that Christianity in the United States has become less about Jesus and more about….America. Anything that threatens that gospel is seen as sinful.
Hence why Critical Race Theory, something that children don’t learn in school, is considered problematic. Or why mandates to wear masks during a pandemic are seen as infringements on personal freedom. America has always been about personal freedom. And they’ve always been the hero of the story, fighting for democracy around the world. So God forbid anyone teaches that they’re the bad guys.
In the midst of this, I still wonder if deconstruction is one step on the road to revival.
If revival is supposed to be a movement of repentance and transformation, perhaps it could be. But I think it will start when there is a recognition that corporate/communal sin exists and that it is just as problematic as personal sin. The same ways we can easily recognizing adultery or theft or murder as sins should be how we begin to recognize prejudice and idolatry (nationalism, political party, etc.) as cultural or generational sins that need to be repented of as hindrances to the fullness of a move of the Spirit.