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Humility: The Foundation for Unity

Billy Graham said, “The greatest need among Christians and churches today is for genuine spiritual revival. Whenever God has touched His people in special times of revival, lives have been changed, and Christians have experienced new power to do God’s work.” [1]

Why have we not experienced revival? Why have moral conditions in our country continued to worsen with the passing years? Why does the church seem powerless to make a difference? Religious leaders often say we are on the verge of revival. But what is lacking?

The famous passage in 2 Chronicles 7:14 lists the key conditions for Israel and an example for us to follow if we want to see revival. I wonder if enough attention has been called to the first condition: “If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves . . .”

We have so much. We are so busy. We have so many programs, so many answers, so many directions. But what does the Lord want? Isaiah 66:2 gives the answer in the very words of God: “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.”

The hallmark of the Welsh Revival in 1904-1905 was the phrase “Bend the church and save the world!” Most notably, this message was heard by Evan Roberts who responded tearfully to an altar call with the simple prayer, “Lord, bend me!” God used that humble beginning to multiply like the loaves and fishes until revival touched all parts of the globe. (Incidentally, this is the last global revival we have seen.)

One author who actually participated in this revival observed:

“The object lesson that stands out the clearest, is the fact that the Spirit of God moved upon the unsaved in converting power as soon as the Christians in a specific church, or specific meeting, were in harmony with God . . . God works in the world when His people are right with Him.” [2]

Yes, revival must begin with you and me. As we individually humble ourselves before God, finding harmony with Him, we begin to find harmony with one another. One church that experienced revival in 1904 began with its pastor in 1903 who “returned to his church fervently praying for an outpouring of the Spirit. Slowly signs began . . . People in the church who had taken offense with each other were reconciled. Unity prepared the way of the Lord.”[3]

That is my observation for this modern day as well. I have had the privilege of networking with the body of Christ from many different denominations, ethnicities, ages, methodologies, and other perspectives. It takes a lot of humility for people to cooperate with each other. It means putting aside some commonly held practices that are less important for the sake of unity on issues that are considered more important. It takes time, effort and patience. But unity is essential if we are to see revival.

Joy Dawson, a senior staff leader and author with Youth With a Mission said:

“If the Lord were to pour out revival upon the Body in the condition that we are in now, our current lack of unity would hinder us from being an adequate “vessel” to hold and maintain the revival that He would pour out. . . I have changed my priority in prayer to pray for unity first, then revival. Unity in the body is a direct answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17, and a unified Body provides a proper ‘vessel’ into which revival can be poured out.” [4]

We do not know when God will again grant revival to the church and awakening to the world. But one thing we can do is to “prepare the soil” by meeting the conditions of 2 Chronicles 7:14. Let’s redouble our efforts to support and lead the kind of unity that is born of prayer and humility.

[1] Graham, Billy, The Coming World Revival, Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1995, p. xi.

[2] Spirit of Revival, “Bend the Church and Save the World,” Life Action Ministries, Buchanan, Michigan, Volume 18, No. 1, p. 24.

[3] Ibid. p. 18.

[4] Dawson, Joy, “Unity in the Body of Christ” (Address at Hope United Methodist Church, San Diego, CA, 5/10/2000.)

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