Fading Light: An Urgent Call to Spiritual Revival
George Otis, Jr.
A Clear and Present Danger
America is entering a season of extraordinary danger. The threat, which includes potential multi-front nuclear conflicts, domestic terror, and a mounting economic crisis, is both unprecedented and imminent. Some have called the circumstances that are now converging around the world a precursor to "the perfect storm."
Many knowledgeable analysts believe an American-led invasion of Iraq-warranted though it may be-could trigger several undesirable consequences. Among the more ominous of these are opportunistic (and potentially catastrophic) military action on the Korean Peninsula, a wave of coordinated domestic and international terror, and a nuclear or biological attack on Israel (launched by a desperate Saddam Hussein).
Economic scenarios are no less grim. One top economist believes that continued unrest in Venezuela coupled with a "messy" war with Iraq could cause the price of oil to rise between $40 and $80 a barrel. This development, coupled with a 34 percent rise in natural gas prices, would trigger severe economic dislocation. Other analysts predict America's growing trade and budget deficits will cause the dollar to lose more that 10 percent of its value in 2003. Already, this witches' brew of present weakness and future uncertainty has led to recent steep declines in stock valuations and corporate payrolls. More than 100,000 jobs were lost in December, and thousands of additional layoffs are being forecast for the coming weeks.
However we choose to respond (or not respond) to these threats, we must understand the stakes are incredibly high. And the implications of our choices will be on us within the blink of an eye. We need wisdom, for we have not walked this way before.
A Church Unprepared
If ever there were a moment for the Church to stand up and be counted, that moment is now. Unfortunately, American Christendom is in the midst of a debilitating spiritual funk. At almost every turn, supernatural power and insight have given way to religious inertia. Fellowships are growing numerically, but members are not maturing in character. There are programs aplenty, but little fear of God. Most ominously, modern believers seem oblivious to their unhealthy condition. Having succumbed to the Laodicean Syndrome (see Revelation 3:14-17), they view their compromised state as normal-even blessed.
A troubling, if predictable, consequence of this spiritual self-deception is that the Church has found itself unable to speak into the current crisis with any clarity or consistency. Burdened political leaders seeking direction from Christian clergy and prayer networks report receiving advice that "wanders all over the map." Needing perspicacious wise men, these national decision makers are finding instead blind guides and flesh-clouded counsel.
In the months ahead, millions of Americans will gather in homes, offices, schools and churches to seek answers and pour out their fears. The need for godly participation in this national discourse is obvious, but there are serious doubts about whether it will happen. According to noted researcher George Barna, the Church will have to work hard to avoid a repetition of its dismal performance in the aftermath of September 11-an occasion many now regard as a missed opportunity. In this exceedingly dangerous and confusing hour, the American Church must either give up its false assumptions (about its spiritual health and the prospect of continued divine favor), or run the risk of becoming irrelevant.
Blow the Trumpet in Zion
"If the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people...I will hold the watchman accountable." (Ezekiel 33:6)
If the Church is the nation's best hope, it must be awakened from its slumber-and fast. Revival must become an urgent priority, not just a theological or historical curiosity. Its promotion must become the task of every pulpit; its implementation the responsibility of every believer. For this to happen, desperate intercessors must prevail upon God to provoke within His people a deep and widespread dissatisfaction with the religious status-quo.
Some dismiss such talk as unnecessarily alarmist, citing America's present global dominance as clear evidence the nation remains the apple of God's eye. They argue that the greater threat lies in disrupting the lives of good people and successful ministry programs.
Such arguments are not new. Indeed they have attended the demise of nearly every revival, and many a civilization. America, given her present predicament, can ill afford a repeat of past mistakes. Rather, she needs godly shepherds who will refuse resolutely to downplay the urgency of the hour and the seriousness of the Church's present condition. She requires committed prophets who will seize every opportunity to acknowledge with Ezekiel: "Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them" (Ezekiel 33:10).
We have come to the point, both as a nation and as a Church, where we can no longer coast on the momentum of past deeds and choices. Our relationship with God has gone fallow, and it can only be restored through true repentance and unreserved obedience. As Scripture reminds us, "The righteousness of the righteous man will not save him when he disobeys..." (Ezekiel 33:12).
In this unsettled hour, the eyes of the Lord are upon His people. Will He find faith in the earth? Will He find a hunger for His presence? Will He find a ready remnant through whom He can speak to this nation and its leaders?
Let us press in to hear what the Spirit has to say to the Church. If this requires us to suspend, at least temporarily, some of our most cherished routines-let us seize the moment!
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