The 1972’s revival, in my limited experience, was a revival of love. It was a crying revival, not a laughing revival (not that I have anything against holy laughter). It was a revival of tears – tears of contrition, and tears from being intensely flooded and overwhelmed by an outpouring of God’s love in the hearts of his children. “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom 5:5). This love is first God’s love for us, and in the recipients’ response, becomes their love for God. Revival is a love transfusion to the half-dead.
This love was made available only after Christ has completed his atonement on the cross and was raised from the dead, and ascended to the right hand of the Father. “Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39). It is one of the many blessings of Christ’s finished work.
A love that grows
This love that we receive by the Spirit when we begin to follow Jesus is the starter kit. This love is not static. It is dynamic and it can grow richer and deeper or wax cold and fade. St Paul prayed for the church in Ephesus to experience and explore this love in greater measures and dimensions. He wanted the church to “have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with the fullness of God (Eph 3: 18,19). This not a conceptual, cognitive, head knowledge understanding of God’s love, but a love that is experienced in encounters with God, or in simple every day real life, where God’s action and presence is experienced.
A prayer experiment
When I was new to the faith, I prayed almost daily, St Paul’s prayer of Eph 3:14-19 for myself, for more than a month. I remember very intense and deep encounters with the Lord in prayer. I was baptized in God’s love a few times over. It felt like I was been washed and rinsed over and over in the cleansing waters of his presence and love. Why not pray this prayer and ask God for a broadening, heightening, deepening, and lengthening of your experience of his love? This is one prayer that God loves to answer. It will not be the same answer for everyone as it was for me. He knows what kind of experience each of us need. Try praying like this, and after a month, write in the comment box above, what you have experienced.
God’s love has the power to transform lives. Love casts out fear. Yet it constrains us towards discipleship and evangelism. It satisfies us and defines who we are as beloved children of God. We are not defined by what we own or have or possess. We are who we belong to, and who we are loved by. God’s love strips away the burden and yoke of having to meet people’s expectations of us, frees us from insecurities, worldly and fleshly desires and pursuits. It gives us hope and steadies us. I pray you will experience a growing love in these last days when the love of many Christians will grow cold.
Lord, thank you for the love of God that has been poured out in my heart by the Holy Spirit. Help me keep the fires going by gathering together with other believers in authentic relationships and God-honouring worship. Amen.
This is part of a planned series of writings on the topic, “The A to Z of Christ’s Finished Work”. I am writing it alphabet by alphabet Thus far the others that I have written can be found HERE.