Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Revival Prophecies (6) Real Community

During the 1970s, there was a massive buzz about real community. People were thinking seriously about Jesus new commandment and what it means to “Love one another as Jesus loved us”. They realised that this meant more than a meeting once a week. People were thinking about how the practices described in the first few chapters of Acts could be applied in the modern world.

This interest in developing real communities accompanied a hunger for deeper relationships, as the Holy Spirt inspired people to connect with and support other people. Various strands supported this interest.

  • Teaching about body ministry was popular.

  • Many Christians read Edith Shaeffer’s book called “L’Abrie”. While the nerds were reading Francis Shaeffer’s books about Truth and Reason, others were inspired by the story of their community in Switzerland.

  • Speakers from overseas were sharing at conferences in New Zealand about their experiences in developing intentional communities.

  • People were reading books about Christians who had developed a deeper community in their homes. One example was Love is an Open Home by Bill Bair.

  • A friend had a vision of four houses close together with Jesus standing above them and shining his light upon them. This type of vision was common.

I am certain that the Holy Spirit was the inspiration for this interest in community.

Quite a few people tried doing something different. Most found it too hard and eventually gave up. Their struggle is not surprising because they were pushing hard against the world and the spirit of the age. The eighties were a very materialistic decade when everybody seemed to be working hard to get ahead.

Unfortunately, there was very little prophetic guidance or encouragement about how the people of the Spirit should live. One reason is that despite Ephesians 4 being studied assiduously during this season, the prophetic ministry was not really nurtured. Churches that were touched by the Holy Spirit continued to be pastor-centric, so it is not surprising that the movement did not get the prophetic guidance it needed.

Inspiration and guidance for the future came mostly from books and visiting international speakers rather than from a home-grown prophetic voice.

When the Charismatic renewal petered out, the prophecies about revival coming soon kept on coming. Looking back, it seems like they had missed a season of opportunity.

Part of the role of a prophet is to interpret the events of history and explain to the people what was happening. However, when the Charismatic Renewal slowly died out, no prophetic voices examined the move to understand what had gone wrong because they still believed revival was coming. No one asked seriously why such a wonderful opportunity had been missed.

I believe that the hunger for a deeper community back then was inspired by the Holy Spirit, but it is gone now. The buzz about community has died. This is a serious obstacle to revival coming at this time.

The next generation is watching The Block and other home renovation programmes on television and thinking about how they can progress up the property ladder. They are not thinking about what community means for those who have chosen to follow Jesus.

There is a lot of noise about the Kingdom of God, but it is mostly ephemeral, and there is no understanding that a kingdom is a social order, comprised of communities.

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