This past Sunday evening, our church began a small group study called “Downpour” by James McDonald. It is a study on revival based on the Old Testament book of Hosea.
Each day there is a brief devotional thought on the theme of revival and the portion I read today was out of 2 Kings 21-22 where Israel experienced revival under the leadership of Josiah, the boy who became king. A few things jumped off the page as I read it. First, in 22:10, it says, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” It had been so long since anyone in Israel had read God’s Word that they simply called it “a book.” Later, in verse 13, Josiah instructs an attendant to “go inquire of the Lord… about what is written in this book that has been found.” It is not too difficult to see the parallel to today when many Christians have multiple Bibles on their shelves that they never read. There is a lack of hunger for God’s Word, in part, because so many churches are not teaching the Word. Instead, they are teaching pop psychology. Ed Stetzer says, “Preachers should never preach anything that would be true if Christ had not died on the cross.” In other words, if the application of the message is something you can do in your own power (7 tips for a healthy marriage and all 7 involve you changing behavior or trying harder, etc.), don’t even bother teaching it.
The second, also from verse 13 of chapter 22, Josiah says, “Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book…” Boy is that an indictment on Christianity in America! For decades, Christians have idolized church traditions and have disobeyed the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Instead of being penetrating the culture around us with the love of Jesus, we think we are being salt and light by showing up at a church building every time the doors are open. And, by the way, the doors are open way too often! We have so many events and services that instead of discipling people, we have turned them into consumers who come and absorb teaching but never do anything with it! We are over preached and under practiced!
Lord, revive your people! Help us to fall on our knees in repentance over our own sinful ways. Forgive us for valuing our churchy traditions and comforts and neglecting your mission for us. Turn our hearts back to You and what matters to You. As You were moved with compassion when You saw the multitudes, break our hearts for what breaks Yours. Help us to do whatever is necessary, to change whatever is necessary about ourselves and our churches to accomplish Your mission in this world. In the mighty name of Jesus I pray. Amen.