Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Great Awakening?

It seems that the last several years have seen an increasing number of Christian leaders calling for a new spiritual awakening to come to our nation. Leaders ranging from Jim Wallis (see the title of his latest book) to Lou Engle (The Call) have called people to come to a new realization, to see new fervor in following the principles of Jesus and most of all to repent and experience transformation through the Holy Spirit. This kind of thinking resonates with me in a powerful way. It is clear that things are not as they should be. As we live in the tension between what is and what could be, we have to faithfully believe that Jesus is the answer. Repentance and transformation can only come as we seek God and realign with his priorities.

A major obstacle is that we cannot seem to agree on what the priorities of God might include. Our messages may be broad but our disagreements run deep. With many disparate movements, the message that I infer is that being a Christian, following Jesus, means aligning with a specific ideology, Right or Left. For instance, the Millennium Development Goals are no substitute for the good news of the Gospel, but many people calling for "God in America Again" advocate leaving the rest of the world to die while focusing on our own economic and social problems. That is a stance that seems peculiarly out of sync with the teachings of Jesus himself.

Though I find a lot to admire in the growing post evangelical movement, I also find a real unwillingness to acknowledge that a truly humble posture of surrender would be less critical and reactionary and more about living the good news found in the bible. Being sure that you are right about different issues is still called fundamentalism last time I checked.

I'm reminded today that as we approach midterm elections, believers are more divided than ever. Perhaps this is a good enough reason for me to quit facebook. For many (perhaps even myself) the phrase Great Awakening seems connected to a legislative agenda and a worldly concept of win/lose. Jesus, himself though, confounded expectations about what it meant to be a servant, to lead, to win and to lose. It seems that a true Great Awakening will shatter ideology and partisan politics, will elevate the least of these to a position of leadership (when was the last time this happened in any church!?) and will result in millions of people experiencing personal salvation and realigned priorities. Any Gospel that is not Good News For The Poor cannot be called Revival. Likewise, any Awakening that can be accomplished without Jesus cannot possibly be genuine.

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