I must confess: I’m a bit of a cynic. I realize this is not necessarily a positive trait for a pastor, but it’s how I’m wired, at least when it comes to specific events. In other words, I tend to take things with a large grain of salt. I wouldn’t say I like to reject outright things attributed to God, but I cannot help but be suspicious and curious. I’m very curious about the happenings in Wilmore.
Like many others, I’ve heard of the revival being reported from Asbury University, which has spread to Asbury Seminary. I’ve even seen posts on social media that indicate others are traveling to Wilmore to witness and take part in this event. In my excitement and hope of revival, I even shared one of the many posts online about the event, but I decided to take it down because of some observations made by some people on the ground and elsewhere. Then, I began to ponder what genuine revival looks like. I like how one of my Facebook friends said: “True revival begins with repentance and change, not warm feelings.”
You see, revival is only valid if it leads to change and isn’t built upon simply feeling better about one’s spiritual condition. I remind us that Jesus never told the apostles and his other disciples to take their faith in him and hide it from the world, continuing to do what they have always done and to be the people they had always been. No, Jesus called them to work for the kingdom and called them – and us – to a new way of living. The gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary have us exploring the Sermon on the Mount, which shows how the Christian community – the church – ought to look. We are only revived when we repent and go the way Jesus calls us. If we continue going about our daily lives as if nothing has happened, then the “revival” has simply been an event that made some people feel good and nothing more.
I hope the revival at Asbury is genuine. I pray the revival at Asbury is real. I pray for revival to spread throughout the world. I pray that God’s people rise to be salt and light as we are called. I pray that we put aside our desires to keep people away from the church because they don’t fit our molds. I pray that people know how loved and precious they are in God’s sight. I pray for God’s kingdom to come and God’s will to be done, not for the kingdoms and wills of this world to grow.
I pray that my cynicism is unwarranted and that what’s happening at Asbury is genuinely something of God. This is one of the times I hope I’m wrong about something being “not quite right.” Why would I feel as if something is off? Revival services tend to evoke emotional responses and, unfortunately, once the emotions. are gone, so. is the so-called revival. Only time will tell if this is really happening.
Christians are known for their fruit. The revival at Asbury will also be known by its fruit.