No doubt many of us have heard about the religious revival at Asbury University, a school quite like ours. Worship continued for 10 days straight, classes were put off, and people from all over the world traveled to participate in this sudden movement of the Spirit. Classes recently resumed, but worship still spread to churches in the community and even other universities.
I tend to be a little cynical of the ultra-charismatic corner of the church, particularly because of my own experiences with guilt, emotional repentance and then getting caught in the same rut I was in before. I had some high school friends who got baptized three or four times because of an emotional tug to repentance but no action or discipline to bring them closer to obedience. This results in a thriving worship and prayer life, but any relationship outside of the self and the Spirit is glazed over because this “religious fervor” has not made its implications in the everyday life of the worshiper yet. This is evident with Kanye West’s public proclamation of faith but then failure to realize the love of God means we cannot hate our neighbors. So a healthy skepticism at initial conversion can be helpful, but we ought not let our desire for safety cripple our openness to the movement of the Spirit.
As a student body at a Christian university, most of us have experienced that “spiritual high,” or emotional repentance, whether it was at church camp or Winterfest or youth group retreat. For some, those moments were either the beginning or a very strong point in a solid faith that has been growing ever since. On the individual level, we are open to emotional repentance. In fact, it’s hard to imagine repentance at all if there is not emotion or worship involved.
According to John, Jesus prays that “they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you.” In our corner of the church, we often focus on faith as an aspect — or even as it permeates into all other aspects — of the self. We forget God does not redeem individuals, but communities as they reach out into every facet of creation. If we believe the church is real, then we must be open to the notion that God would move within the church and not just individuals.
When we think of the church, not as it is now, but as it ought to be — the bride of Christ, the community of beatitudes, the citizens of heaven — I cannot imagine it being individualistic, where everyone repents on their own and everyone stands in chapel singing loud enough for only themselves to hear. I also cannot imagine that community worshiping fervently in a building, but then cussing out their neighbors, being stingy with their money or polluting the environment.
I suppose I am only saying this: Do not make judgments about its authenticity quite yet. Revivals like this can do wonders for individuals and communities. They offer conviction and hope that we might be pruned to produce better fruit. Revivals in places like Asbury, Stamford or Harding can be the catalyst for resurrection in places like food banks, shelters and churches. Do not think that because the worship is done, God is too; do not count the Holy Spirit out of this yet.