By Elizabeth Goenner
(This is an article from the ARTGPM Essay Contest)
Society is suffering. Traditional values are being replaced with relativistic beliefs, and people are falling away from Christianity. In this time in history, what churches in America need is a revival. However, this is not the revival of the 20th century, filled with revival tents and fire-and-brimstone preachers. This is a revival of courage, fellowship, joy, and zeal.
The first lines of Casting Crowns’ song “Courageous” say, “We were made to be courageous/ we were made to lead the way/ we could be the generation/ that finally breaks the chains.” The Christian youth of America are being called to stand up for Christ. Whether they are at work, at school, or with their friends, Christian teenagers should not be afraid to profess belief in God. Christian teens should not be afraid to wear a cross or an article of clothing with a Bible verse on it, pray before a meal, or discuss Scripture with others. By standing up for what they believe in, others will take notice. While some people may feel uncomfortable or want them to keep their beliefs to themselves, those who stand up for what is good and right will be rewarded. As Matthew 5:11-12 says, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” And other good will come as well—when teenagers who are only lukewarm in their faith see the example of their friends professing what they believe, they will follow their friends’ good example and realize that they do not have to be ashamed to believe in our Savior Jesus Christ, and soon a culture of youth who are passionately in love with God will arise.
When this culture arises, there must be more than just the average church meetings twice a week. There must be fellowship among these young people; good, strong relationships that will build up the church and inspire others to love God as well. And this fellowship does not even have to take place in a church building—it can take place on the playing field, at dance parties, in movie theatres, during games of pick-up basketball, while working on cars, while stargazing, while playing guitar, while doing the thousands of different things that teenagers like to do. As Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” When people gather for the sake of building up the Kingdom of God, they will experience a small taste of what Heaven will be like, and will want to further work for bringing people to Christ, especially by reviving the Church in a new generation. However, people cannot only live in fellowship; they must live joyfully as well.
Most people know someone with a laugh that is contagious—as soon as people hear the contagious laughter they can’t help but join in. Joy is one of the most contagious characteristics that someone can have. If someone smiles at another person, it’s very difficult not to smile back. When reviving the churches, it must be remembered that one cannot give what one does not have. If the people who are calling for revival want Christians to live their faith joyfully, then those calling for revival must live their faith with joy as well. Mother Teresa said, “Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.” There is nothing more attractive than joy. When both Christians and non-Christians alike witness the joy of their Christian brothers and sisters, they will want the joy that they possess and strive to imitate it. Soon all will realize the beauty of Christianity and encounter the joy that following Christ brings.
Just as joy is contagious, zeal for Christianity will spread as well. A small match, when lit, can set an entire forest ablaze. All Christians are called to be that match and light the world on fire with a love for Jesus Christ. Albert Schweitzer said, “In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” Imagine if everyone were to burn with a love for God and spread this love to others.
However, none of this is possible without a relationship that is necessary for all Christians to have—a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Before any revival can take place, before Christians begin to live with courage, joy, zeal, and in fellowship with one another, they must establish a relationship with God and learn to pray well. And if Christians do not revive the churches, if Christians do not stand up for what they believe in, if Christians do not enter into a personal relationship with God, then society will continue to suffer and people will continue to reject God. As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” While God has ultimately triumphed, that does not mean that evil no longer exists. Christians are in a spiritual battle and must stand up and defend their beliefs, now more so than ever. This is why revival is so important.
When Christians, especially young Christians, begin to live courageously, live in fellowship with one another, spread joy, and live with zeal, revival will occur. The nation needs revival, especially today’s society with its lack of morality. Rend Collective Experiment’s song “Build Your Kingdom” is all about reviving the church and says “We are Your church/ we are the hope on earth.” Reviving the churches in America is no easy task, but it must be done. Why? Because we are Christ’s church. And we are the hope on earth.