I am surrounded by people praying for revival. This is a good thing, but I am not always encouraged by it. I want the prayers to be answered literally, but fear that the people praying do not know what they are asking for. I am also sometimes concerned when we start expecting it with an attitude of ought, that is, when we start thinking that God ought to give us a revival. These are hard to avoid, and I have certainly fallen into them on occasion, but they are no better for that.
God owes us nothing. The gospel is that he gave us his only son. Now, if he has given us his son, anything more is as nothing in comparison. Thus we can pray boldly for revival. The problem is when we start viewing it as a right. Our faith is a gift, and with Christ comes all else. A revival in the church means nothing less than the resurrection of many dead who sit in the pews. To call it a revival is to admit that we once were, but are no longer, alive. That we need reviving is to imply that we are not vived, i.e., that we are not alive. To pray for revival, then, is to ask God to save those who sit under his word yet do not hear it. Why are we ever not praying for this? That many more would receive the gift of faith--that is revival. Revival is simply missions targeting the churched, and, through the churched becoming the saved, those who see the church being the church will know that we are Christ's church by our love.
This all sounds nice and pretty, but it is not really. Beautiful, yes, but not so much ordered, at least from what we can expect to see. To love one another is dangerous. We are still sinners. We will still rub each other the wrong way. We are all broken in our ways, and only Christ can fix us, and, though we are made new when we are saved by him, we are not quite as we will be. We are fixed, yet we are not fixed. We have been taken out from this world, yet we are still in it. We still struggle against sin, and some of us will not like to be around others of us, on account of our sins, yet we must see each other as forgiven, since that is how we are in Christ. Sinning, but also justified. Weep for the sin, weep with the sinner. Struggle to see in each person the image of God, how they reflect the nature of God in their life and in their works. May we be unwound to reflect him as we ought, and may we bear with one another as God bears with us, even though it costs us our lives.