In the modern church there continues to be an interest in revival and reformation, and rightly so. The modern conception of how we understand the church of today owes its very existence to the cycles of revival and reformation that have occurred throughout history. A very pedestrian definition of what these terms actually mean to the average person in the street if we were to ask them to explain what revival andreformation mean would produce the image of big tents and meetings in large stadiums or auditoriums with a speaker admonishing people to come down and accept Jesus. A very basic understanding of the term revival gives the idea that something is dead, therefore it needs to be revived and reformation conjures up the image that something went bad and needs to be fixed, improved, or put back together.
Unfortunately, most calls for revival and reformation are made to look as one-time events and reek of legalism for the most part. If the church were to undertake the task of revival and reformation it must be understood that it involves individual as well as a corporate commitment to the proposition. The church is the sum total of all its parts. Individual members, church leaders as well as its affiliated institutions: schools, hospitals, etc, are all the church. The spiritual renewal and transformation implied in the call to revival and reformation means NOTHING if we do not recognize the following: that true revival and reformation are rooted in our individual and corporate acknowledgment that we are all sinners in desperate need of God’s transforming grace as manifested in Jesus Christ; AND, that we are in desperate need of living in the presence of the ever abiding Holy Spirit. There seems to be an implication that we are to live by the spirit of the Law of God—love for God and others to the extent we love ourselves, rather than by the letter of the law—the one nailed on the tree as Paul so eloquently describes. In other words, our revival and reformation must lead to a restoration of our consciousness and our moral behaviors.
Revival and reformation therefore are intrinsic to the Biblical calls to the rebirth of the Holy Spirit in us and the reconciliation of ourselves to God and to each other, but most important revival and transformation are to be conceptualized in the heart and soul of each believer as our continuous commitment to the Christian life.
At the very heart and soul of revival and reformation, is the idea of becoming new creations as Paul would call it and again I remind you: new creations individually and corporately. And we become new creations when we are enamored with who and what Jesus Christ represents to each of us: savior, brother, friend; and, to the church: King, High Priest, Husband. Most importantly though, TRUE revival and reformation involve a daily opening of our hearts to Him who rightfully claims dominion over it through the power of the Holy Spirit, and by surrendering daily we will become more and more like Jesus Christ our savior—that is the promise of the Gospel. The Bible illustrates this transformation by painting a picture of the breaking dawn of a new day and how the light grows more and more powerful as each moment passes. So it is to be with us who choose to live in the Spirit.
Let me illustrate how living in the Spirit looks like. We love to sing how Jesus loves the little children—and He does, but rarely, if ever, are we appalled or concerned enough to consider the precarious situations in which children from around the world—and I do mean around the world, live: the abuse and neglect; the suffering; the exploitation of all types they are subject to, particularly if they are poor and female. IF we manage to develop some sort of concern, we rationalize our lack of action by recalling how Jesus Christ said that the poor will be with us always. In the process of rationalizing we are incapable of crystallizing in our consciousness what Jesus Christ really meant. Jesus Christ said that of the poor or as He called them: the least of these, because they will always be our ever present work as long the church continues to exist on earth. Caring for the least of these is but one example of how and what it means to live by the Spirit. Living by the Spirit means, among other things, doing the work that the Spirit has anointed us—individually and corporately—to do. Doing the work of the Spirit and living by the Spirit comes about as a result of TRUE revival and reformation.