Since the theme of Revival and Reformation surfaced last year during the General Conference Session there seem to be three major reactions: those who are total skeptics, those who have embraced it, and the biggest camp of all, those who don’t care.
Those who Embrace Revival and Reformation
Those who embrace revival and reformation look at the conditions in the world and conditions in the church and are convinced that Jesus is coming soon; that we are living in the period of time represented by the church of Laodicea. They know and trust in the promise of the pouring out of the Latter Rain and have near total faith in the leadership of the Adventist Church. They are optimistic and hopeful that if the leaders and members of the church are sincere enough, committed enough, and do the right things, that the Latter Rain will happen and Jesus will come. They believe that we who are followers of Jesus Christ and even more specifically those of us who are Seventh-day Adventists can change the date of the second coming either moving it forward or pushing it backward depending on our level of holiness. This group worries that skeptics and others will further delay the Latter Rain. They also worry this same group will so discourage the body of believers that the church will not do the things that need to be done to bring about the final events of this earth’s history.
Those who are Skeptical of Revival and Reformation
The skeptics are mostly lifelong Adventists and have heard it all before. While they too hope for the second coming they have over and over again seen dates set, expectations raised only to be dashed when nothing happened. They believe the Latter Rain will happen when God wants it to happen and not any sooner. They believe that human might theoretically hasten the coming of Jesus, the sinful nature of man makes it impossible. They worry that efforts to hasten the Latter Rain will only discourage people and create more cynics. While they too believe prayer and Bible study is important, they also feel that time energy and money could be more effectively employed in other areas.
Revival and Reformation, a different paradigm
I find myself living in both camps and in neither camp. I am a cynical, skeptical, hopeful, hopeless, dreaming, optimistic, romantic Seventh-day Adventist. I believe the Seventh-day Adventist Church, born out the end of the second great awaking, is a unique faith community that has been called to lift up Jesus to a broken sinful world in the context of the Three Angels message of Revelation 14. As a concept, I am enthusiastic about Revival and Reformation. Honestly, how could I not be? I dream of the kind of impact our church would have on our community, on our country, on the whole world if we were all revived and reformed. We would no longer be an obscure little quirky part of the evangelical Christian community.
I long for a community of believers who are willing to do whatever it takes to walk closer to Jesus and to reach that next person for Jesus. I hate listening to and reading and sometimes even being a part of the cynical crowd. But I also worry when I read and hear the blind unquestioning endorsement of everything coming from church leadership. Yet I also long for revival and reformation. Since it has entered into my consciousness, I join with the supporters in praying that it will happen soon. That it will happen in my lifetime.
This is the first of a series of articles about Revival and Reformation. I would like to offer a different perspective on what we need to do as leaders, as a church and members to bring about Revival and Reformation. It’s not that I don’t think repentance, Bible Study and Prayer are important, because they are. In fact they are a crucial part of the picture, I just don’t think it is enough. I don’t think we are dreaming big enough, I don’t think we are really even imagining what God can do through our church. Instead we are holding on with grim determination to what we have and what we know, but perhaps not really wanting to have the explosive game changing, life changing experience that took place at the feast of Pentecost after Jesus died. I hope that as we explore this topic you will dream big with me.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/2919