by Stan Smith
The First Great Awakening was a revival that swept Europe and America in the 1730's and 1740's. This revival was not aimed at the unsaved; it was a call for Christians to be Christian. The movement had huge impacts on the nation and the world. First, it personalized Christianity, making it a matter of personal interaction with the Holy Spirit rather than a cold religion. It removed the classic divide of "clergy and laity". Of course there was increased religious activity, but this went far beyond religious effects. It forwarded puritan ethics which included evangelism as well as a solid work ethic. Self-sacrifice, cooperation, benevolence, and giving to the needs of others were natural outcomes. Education was furthered with the establishment of major universities like Princeton. It was in this revival that slavery first came into question. One of the lead names in the Great Awakening, George Whitefield, was accused of encouraging a slave conspiracy in 1741 because he was preaching to them. This revival laid the roots of the American Revolution by suggesting that authority ran from God to people to rulers and by unifying the people as a nation.
In the 1890's, Christianity came to Mizoram, India. The effects were spectacular. To this day, Mizoram stands out from all other Indian states. While the vast majority of India is Hindu, almost 87% of Mizoram is Christian. It has a 91% literacy rate. There are no homeless in Mizoram. The state includes a Reformed Church with a membership of 600,000 and supports over 1,700 missionaries. This is quite remarkable since the average per capita income in Mizoram is $400 a year. But in 2007 the congregation gave $12 million to the church of which nearly $5 million was applied to world missions.
In the Welsh Revival of 1904, Wales became a God-fearing nation. Pubs went empty. Giving to the church for charitable purposes increased. Crime decreased, almost eliminating the need for judges. Work production increased. Bills were paid and loans repaid. Look it up sometime. The Welsh Revival had some of the most far-reaching effects in history.
Elsewhere, a revival in Denver, Colorado, so depleted the criminal element that they laid off police because the crime rate was so low. Christianity brought about hospitals and aid organizations, the abolition of slavery, improvements in education, child welfare, workplace conditions, medicine, and on and on.
These stories could go on and on. What's my point? The point is that Christianity -- genuine Christianity -- has an effect on its society. You'll find that in history. You'll find that in Scripture. "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35). According to the protesters in Acts, the disciples of Christ "upset the world" (Acts 17:6). You see, Christianity is not a religion in the corner, a quiet belief that can be shared or not. Genuine Christianity has a necessary impact on the believer (Phil 2:13; 1 John 3:9). We may be affected to different degrees at different rates, but all believers are affected because Christianity is, at its core, a new life.
So ... what's my point? I've made my first point. Christianity affects the world around it. If you have no effect, you need to do a reality check. But there is another, larger point. When we look around us and see the decline of morality in the world and the rise of calling evil good and good evil, it is easy to blame the sinners. The truth is "Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). So a good part of the blame lies with the Church. Instead of standing with God on His principles, we've suffered the erosion of biblical principles for sinful, social values. Instead of living godly, Christian marriages, we've succumbed to worldly perspectives and now marriage teeters on the brink of oblivion. Instead of standing as godly husbands and wives, godly parents, godly workers, and godly citizens on God's principles, we've eased off into worldly spouses, worldly parents, worldly workers, and wordly citizens. Oh, we comfort ourselves because we're not as bad as "them", but that's quite the wrong standard, isn't it? Being more moral than the world which opposes God at its core would be a given. Possessing the same values that the Scriptures call on us to possess is something else entirely. We've bought, for instance, the welfare state instead of leading the way by caring for our own. As our society has embraced sexual immorality in so many forms, we should have evidenced chaste lives and held the marriage bed in honor rather than winking at sin in our camp. We bemoan the surge of socialism when we should have been leaders as givers and helpers and aid for the needy.
My point? We need revival. We need another Great Awakening. I'm not talking about some Pentecostal/Charismatic event or some tent meeting. I am talking about a return of Christians to Christian living and Christian conduct and Christian attitudes and Christian values. I'm talking about Christians who so shine in their good works that people notice and praise God. I'm talking about a group of people marked by their shared love for one another. I'm talking about believers so altered in the way they live that skeptics have nowhere to argue. Until we see changed lives that correspond to genuine Christianity, we will need to continue to list us as major contributors to the decline of modern society. They are their own problem. We need to address ourselves in this.
"Point of Reference" from
What is man that you are mindful of him? Ps. 8:4Read Article »
I'm married with four grown children and (currently) four grandchildren. My wife and I live in sunny Phoenix by choice. I hope to encourage people with my words and to share with others what God has shared with me.
For more writings you can see my blog at birdsoftheair.blogspot.com.
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