I admit it. I have always been fascinated by the Olympics and the men and women who focus their youth on the singular goal of medaling in the Games. I keep up with the athletes and the storylines, and Olympic events are just about the only thing on our family’s television during those two weeks of summer and winter every two years. This year, I have joined the rest of the world to watch the London Games.
I spent a day wandering London several years ago…riding the Tube, walking the street and watching people. I really had no agenda, except seeing a few obscure sites I had missed on previous visits to the city. I saw Team GB’s rich spiritual heritage on full display everywhere I went. It was nice to see, of course, but I couldn’t help but wonder where all the energy, youth and vitality had gone.
England, Scotland and Wales represent a significant part of our spiritual heritage. It’s where great communicators of the Word were used by God to revitalize and renew our churches. It’s where great revival movements began. And it’s where the impetus for modern missions first took flight with men and women who devoted their entire lives and families to far away peoples they barely knew.
What strikes any believer who goes to Britain today is the sheer absence of Christian faith in the national consciousness. Churches all over Team GB are shells of what they once were. The decline began in the 19th century, when many attended church as a moral commitment instead of a spiritual one. Secularization and anti-Christian sentiment gradually increased, crowding out and marginalizing those with a discernable Biblical worldview.
Sound familiar? Team USA has been arriving at a similar spiritual place for some time now. But our god is the God of hope and second chances, both now and in the past.
In 1904 at Seth Joshua’s “God Meeting” in Blaenanerch, Wales, the spirit of God fell on a 26-year old man named Evan Roberts. God told him to begin to cry out, and that’s what he did: “Bend me! Bend me! Bend me! Bend us, oh Lord.” After that, eyewitnesses recall that the Holy Spirit came upon the people with power that figuratively shook the congregation to its core.
The great Welsh Revival had begun.
Evan Roberts preached “The Four Great Tenets,” and they seem as appropriate for us today as they were for the unrevived Welsh church in 1904. He implored every Christian to:
- Confess all known sin.
- Deal with and get rid of anything ‘doubtful’ in your life.
- Be ready to obey the Holy Spirit instantly.
- Confess Christ publicly.
For me, this is Britain’s real olympian legacy…a legacy from men like Evan Roberts, C.H. Spurgeon and William Carey. It’s a legacy of great movements of spiritual revival and renewal.
There is an opening for genuine revival in our own land at the start of the 21st century, just as God moved among Welsh believers at the beginning of the last century. We have two roads before us: turn, listen and wait for the Holy Spirit’s voice of revival, or continue down the road of spiritual obligation, complacency and increasing irrelevance.
It’s time to seize the day. Evan Roberts’ four points seem like a good place to start.