Can a new Great Awakening style revival bring unity to the Church? Many are praying, crying out and prophesying it today, but I’m sorry to say it just won’t happen.
As much as we need a renewed spiritual life in the church, and as much as I believe that God is going to pour out His spirit on all flesh in the days we are living, it simply will not bring unity.
Although the word revival is a fairly new invention in the historical perspective of the church, the pattern of falling away and returning to God has occurred repeatedly throughout recorded humanity. Each “revival” brought as much division as it did restoration.
Jeremiah warned his people of their backsliding only to be imprisoned, mocked and almost killed. God wanted His people to return to Him, but their hearts were cold and set on the things of the surrounding culture instead of the God who had brought them into the promised land. By the time restoration came, it was extremely challenging, and many resisted the move of God.
When the reformation began in Europe, it was harshly resisted by the established church. Although the Roman Catholics were corrupt in many ways and had long since left God behind in favor of control and manipulation, they failed to see their sin and persecuted the ones God called to bring renewal.
When the Anabaptists came on the scene to continue the reformation with new convictions, they were persecuted by the last move of God (the Lutherans and the Calvinists). The puritans were persecuted by the Church of England and Roman Catholic Queen Mary. Even in the last hundred years or so, The Methodists verbally attacked the Wesleyans who later attacked the Pentecostals who later attacked the Charismatics.
It is sad, but true, each successive revelation of God is nearly always persecuted by the people who enjoyed the last move of God and somehow got stuck thinking that God had given them all there was and that they somehow had a corner on God.
Knowing all of this, is revival even worth it? Should we keep praying for it? Absolutely! God did not make us to become stale and moldy. “In Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) God told us that in the last days there would be a great falling away AND a great outpouring of His spirit. The bottom line is that we get to choose which we are going to be a part of.
While this great outpouring will further fracture and split an already divided Church, it will bring more unity to the ones under the waterfall of God’s outpouring. I can’t speak for you, but as for me and my house, we are in search of the waterfall. I hope you are too!