It is impossible to consider the resurrection of Jesus Christ without thinking of potential applications in the present. While we firmly believe in the literal, physical resurrection of our Lord, we also do no damage to this truth when we allow the resurrection event to serve as a metaphor for the shared life of the church.
At the Nazarene M11 event in Louisville, we featured "resurrection" stories of God's incredibly powerful intervention in the lives of individuals who were raised to new life through the power and presence of Christ. The power of Jesus was mediated to those individuals through the incarnational ministry of individual believers whose compassion led them to invest in broken lives.
A renewing of the church has been at the top of the list of desired events ever since the afterglow from that first Pentecost experience launched the church of Jesus Christ. Ensuing years have borne witness to the cyclical experiences of the church in either mountain peaks of holiness, compassion, and mission, or deep valleys of self-preoccupation, enervation, and even despair.
Let us see the power of the resurrection as the metaphor for renewal and revival desperately longed for in the church of Jesus Christ. Additionally, let us pose questions that can move the power of the resurrection from a metaphorical reference to actual experience in the body of Christ.
Is not revival God's desire for his church? Is not revival delayed because of our tardy responses, our half-hearted interest, and the plague of self-absorption? Is there any condition critical to revival that God has not already met on our behalf? Is revival dependent upon external conditions or circumstances?
Revival begins in one heart and spreads through the conflagration of holy fire setting other prepared hearts ablaze.
The table of revival blessing is set before us. Redemption has been accomplished by God's own work through his son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
It is also interesting to note that revival can follow judgment. When God has laid bare our hearts and has shown us our spiritual deficits - that instead of fire, all that is there are the cold ashes of yesterday's memories of the manifestation of God's presence - revival is near.
Real revival looses the spirit of praise. As we encounter the awesome glory of God, that glory envelops us with power. It takes us into the cleft of the rock where we see God's veiled-yet-magnificent glory passing by.
True revival burns like a consuming fire, clearing the way of the Holy God and all that resists or rejects his majestic presence. The fire of God burns until all such resistance is consumed and our resistance melts before his awesome glory.
From his album, Revival in Belfast, songwriter Robin Mark penned these words in Revival:
From the Preacher preaching when the well is dry
To the lost soul reaching for a higher high
From the young man working through his hopes and fears
To the widow walking through the veil of tears
Every man and woman, every old and young
Every father's daughter, every mother's son.
I feel it in my spirit, feel it in my bones
You're going to send revival, bring them all back home
I can hear that thunder in the distance
Like a train on the edge of town
I can feel the brooding of Your Spirit
"Lay your burdens down, Lay your burdens down."
Revive us, Revive us,
Revive us with your fire!
The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave is clearly more than a metaphor. It is a historical fact, evidenced in countless lives where transformation has re-established hope and brought eternal life. It is also a metaphor such as Ezekiel saw in his vision of the valley of dead bones come to life. Revival fires are burning around the world. Will you be a part of God's mighty revival?
David J. Felter is editor in chief for Holiness Today.
Holiness Today, Mar/Apr 2013