Ephesians 2:14 tells us that Jesus is our peace and has broken down the barrier that brought division between Jews and Gentiles. Paul writes to the Corinthians about the issue of division, appealing for them to be united in the same mind and same judgement. The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus, in John 17, shows us Jesus prayed for his people that they would be one. Unity matters to God.
I want to propose that to achieve the assignment we’ve been given to see heaven on earth, we have to live differently. We have to ask some big questions about what the kingdom is like. We often talk about aspects of salvation – being saved, healed and delivered. But then what? After personal revival, what does the kingdom look like? Surely the kingdom is more than just personal transformation? We have to have a vision beyond everyone in our location being saved, healed and delivered. We have to have a sustainable kingdom – one where every aspect of kingdom life can continue in every regard. Why does revival have to stop? Why does it have to dry up after one generation? If things in the kingdom go from glory to glory, what do we need to learn from history to do differently?
It is important that we don’t take messages that could bring division, and build structures out of them that facilitate that division. For example, let us look at the subject of apostleships and denominations. An apostleship gathers around relationships, often through a shared apostolic fathering. Comparatively, a denomination gathers around agreement – shared doctrine and theology indicates who is part of them, and who is not. Yet some who champion apostleships over denominations actually divide away from denominations because they don’t agree with them!
Interestingly, denominations are often birthed out of revival or reformation; they can trace their origins to back to historic outpourings of God. Denominations aren’t even necessarily bad things! An issue though is that in order to protect what God did originally in the denomination, certain things become non-negotiable – which leads to division – and ironically, sometimes that which birthed something turns out to to be the reason why that move dies down. The focus moves from revival to routinization. Clearly, we need to steward revival well. If we don’t, routinization will take place. Traditions kick in and rules are established, and denominationalism takes over.
With all revivals historically, surely the expectation would have been in the beginning that the revival would never end. Which brings us back to my original questions. What does that look like? And how do we learn from history to steward future, never-ending revival? What walls do we need to knock down?