A few weeks ago someone on Facebook invited me to their church revival, an event with a picture a little white, midwest church.
Now this revival could have been a lot of things, but judging from the atmosphere of where I grew up, it was probably centered around a little hellfire and brimstone, a little fear to get people to the pearly gates.
That’s the God I used to count my tallies toward, the guy with a white beard, the Zeus-like man who closely resembled King Triton from The Little Mermaid.
Seven years later, I’m still shedding the skin of that pain, still trying to re-configure the image of God for myself– and in reality, all I can come up with is great and loving Mystery.
Richard Rohr calls it benevolent love, and that’s exactly it– some sort of out-of-world goodness.
The purpose of a revival is to bring out a heart change, to renew the soul and point all lives toward Heaven.
But somewhere along the line we’ve lost something, maybe misunderstood Kingdom.
Jesus is as much here as He is there; the Mystery of God is as much present as it is future-eternal.
And so maybe we need a new church revival, the kind that transforms communities out of the overflow of love instead of fear.
Maybe we should revive ourselves in a different way–
a revival in the way we tip our waitresses and support local farmers;
a revival in the way we participate in protecting and restoring the environment;
a revival in the language we use toward those who are different than us;
a revival in how we care for the broken and marginalized;
a revival in the animosity-talk of church and national politics;
a revival in the way we value our children and their role in the church and our families;
a revival in how we define ourselves as human beings instead of separate nations scattered around this earth;
a total revival in the way we see the extreme love of Jesus for every living creature.
We’re asking why people leave the church again and again, and maybe this answers a sliver of that question.
For years, the revival has been a weekend or weeklong event, staged to bring a dramatic change to a community– and we’ve certainly seen it happen.
But this kind of work, this re-defining of the church, a re-defining of ourselves, our language toward each other–
this may take a while.
And the good news is that we are not abandoned, waiting for the sting of armageddon.
We are present to the Kingdom of Jesus, to shalom, to this benevolent love, and that is the restorative-revival-life that we are meant to lead everyday in our lives.
Hallelujah for the lifelong revival work.