Before Jesus came to earth the Jews were a nation occupied and ruled by the Romans. The scriptures told them a Jew would be born (whose title they called Christ, or Messiah) who would liberate them forever. They appeared to assume this Messiah would come in the form of a king storming the land and laying waste to those who oppressed them. They may have expected him to be like “Alexander The Great” of Greece who had had ruled so much of the world only 350 years prior.
On the contrary, Jesus grew up in relative anonymity working a blue collar job at his dad’s wood shop. And instead of running for office or rising through the military ranks, Jesus served people who rejected him:
“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” (John 1:10-11)
“… [Jesus] did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
The head pastors / priests / mega-church staff of the time had their assumptions backward too. They were so sure Jesus could not be the Messiah that when he claimed to be, they looked for loopholes in the law that would get him put on death row! That stalled when the prefect (regional governor) Pilate found Jesus had committed no crimes, but the mega-church staff bullied Pilate into killing Jesus anyway.
Yet that was God’s plan all along:
“but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” (1 Peter 1:19-20)
What if our 2017 assumptions about "how God’s plan works" are as askew as the assumptions about the Messiah were 2000 years ago? We long for revival but maybe the next revival looks different than the last one. Maybe the answer is right in front of us but our assumptions make us blind to it.
What if the “on button” for revival is followers of Jesus refusing to let families break apart, being satisfied with half as much as we have access to so we can give the other half to the needy, giving up "me" time and trading it to feed and interact with the poor and powerless, refusing to abandon or despise those who have attacked us but serving them instead and helping them succeed, insisting that the wisdom of this current generation (churches included) is not greater than scripture, being a living sacrifice and showing warmth to those who hate the Biblical Jesus, and humbling ourselves to heal the divisions we Christians have created among ourselves both as individuals and as organizations?
If that’s the “on button” it’s no wonder we don’t see revival. But the good news is we can. In order to press that button we just have to wake up everyday and ask ourselves one question:
“What if Jesus really meant what he said?”
Have you ever genuinely considered that? I challenge you to find a quiet place, read Matthew chapter 5, and then genuinely ask yourself “What if Jesus really meant what he said?” without your head breaking in half. Just a few ideas from that chapter that I am still dealing with are:
- Fortunate people are the ones who are persecuted.
- Anyone angry with a fellow follower of Jesus will be subject to judgment.
- Anyone who looks at a woman with sexual desire has already had sex with her.
- If anyone wants to sue you or rob you, give them more than they ask for.
- Love your enemies and pray blessings on those who are out to get you.
Wow. What if Jesus really did mean what he said?
Worship Director & Director of Discipleship
If you’re interested, you can find the words of Jesus in four books of the Bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. John is a good place to start if you’re a first time reader, and the chapter I mentioned above is Matthew chapter 5.