I've been on a fast-tracking learning new terms in my new job preparing for a potential surge in pandemic flu. One of the words that interested me was the term; "Resilience". It means;
" ... the ability of a material to recover from a shock, insult, or disturbance".
You could exchange "material" for "organisation" or even "church". One of the frustrations of my job is planning for something you don't quite know when it will come. I was walking and praying and thinking about my longing for an unsurpassed move of God - for revival itself - and I found God directing my thoughts to my job. To the job of my boss - the "Emergency Resilience Planning Manager". My boss spends his entire working week planning for something that he doesn't quite know when will come. And even IF it will come! Yet he plans and makes the hospital as ready as he can.
And I found God asking me what the "resilience" of the church is like. Are we actually READY for a "disturbance" of heavenly proportions?
My last post was one of Ern Baxter's classic long sermons from the Dales Bible Week 1976. I made a comment that Ern wasn't listened to. He brought a prophetic/apostolic wake-up call to the church - to the Charismatic Movement - and pleaded with them not to rest where they were and enjoy the experiences but take it to a waiting and desperate world. Pastor/teachers went home with their churches and carried on as if life had never changed. And within a decade the Charismatic Movement was on the wane. The effects are still felt today for which we thank God. But the spiritual life and vitality of renewal has all but gone.
One of Ern Baxter's comments during the sermon was this;
"The people that are most vigorously opposed to the newest move of the cloud, are the people who moved with the cloud last. And you may be that people tomorrow".
I've learnt in planning for pandemic flu that there is only so much you can plan for. There are so many policies that you can write. Only so many exercises you can practice. After that - you have to wait for the unknown! I think that's one of the most important lessons that we need to absorb into our planning and preparation and "digging ditches" for any supernatural move of God. That we don't know what's coming. We don't know what God will do. We don't know how God will do it. But we know He IS God and we know He IS amazingly good.
But another point in our planning - is that church history makes it clear that when the church is revived - the nations WILL come. The problem is - I don't think that a lot of churches actually WANT the nations to come. During the Welsh Revival 0f 1900-1902 a lot of drunk miners were saved and I am willing to bet that they didn't change over night. I'm sure they started going to church - a lot of people weren't very happy with the way they were. I wonder how long it was before the church started to try and mold them into becoming "respectable".
THIS is why the grace revolution that men such as Rob Rufus, Bill Johnson and others are teaching is so crucial. Because God isn't satisfied anymore with the lost being saved and being transformed into "religion". Being saved and being transformed into a legalistic poor counterfeit. It makes my blood boil seeing passionate new converts who came into the church so full of fire - and you look at them now and they are "talking the lingo" and buying the required books and quite possibly vying for the pastor's approval and maybe - if they are lucky and related by marriage - a place in the required college of their denomination to get ahead.
What on EARTH has that got to do with the real and glorious Church? "Resilience" means that the church can cope with any disturbance that heaven brings. And I am persuaded that resilience can be taught and learnt from the gospel of true and glorious grace alone - the facts of the matter. That God in Christ Jesus has reconciled us to Himself and has given us the only gift of righteousness we need - His and His alone. Only grace will prepare us for the glory of His coming.