Jesus Revolution and the 2023 Asbury Revival
Revival has been a part of our country’s heritage since before the American Revolution in 1776. What has been deemed as the First Great Awakening was led by Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield. These two men encouraged the American people to bring back, not just religious traditions, but the fear of God into their lives. Jonathan Edwards preached his famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” reminding the colonists that their lives are but a vapor and if they failed to repent their souls were doomed. After the revolution in the early 1800’s another revival broke out known as the Second Great Awakening. This great awakening was led by circuit riding preachers who would ride a circuit to preach at different towns throughout the week. Other revival fires followed at various times throughout American history.
Recently, Jesus Revolution, a memoir movie on a revival in the 1960’s and 70’s hit theaters right at the same time as the 2023 Asbury Revival was happening. College students at Asbury University held their normal chapel service which led to students continuing the chapel service into hours, days, and weeks. Curious onlookers and those in prayer over revival joined the students and prayed alongside them for salvation, repentance, and a renewal in the form of revival.
Revivals are never planned, but they happen at unexpected times. Revival looks similar but can come in unexpected ways among people. In the movie Jesus Revolution, revival came in the form of one pastor with a struggling church who opened his heart and his doors to one man who brought in hundreds of others. The difference was that these people did not look like normal church people and did not act like them either.
We can get into our heads that revival looks one way or that this group of people do not belong in our church, but revival reminds us that all have an opportunity to pursue truth. Truth, much against modern day sentiment, is not relative. Revival is the awakening of people to the truth.
As churches across the nation are watching the Jesus Revolution movie and the aftermath of the recent Asbury revival, we Americans have to ask ourselves if we have lost our original intent. Our nation was founded on values long held by Christians and a quick look at our current landscape shows us that we have walked a line between our founding and where we are today.
With our nation heading in the direction of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity, the Asbury revival and the Jesus Revolution movie remind us that Christianity is a religion for all people of all time. Following Jesus is exclusive in that Christians claim Jesus is the only way, but following Jesus is open to all who are willing to repent and turn from sin and give their heart and life to Christ. Fox News reported that people from around the world came to the Asbury revival and while not all of them could speak English, there was a mutual understanding that all were worshiping the same God. Christianity does not limit itself to cultures, only limiting itself in that Jesus is the only way.
What started over two thousand years ago in the land of Israel with one man, is now a worldwide invitation to any who want to change their lives. Movements from time to time seek to spread Jesus to others. One of those is the modern day He Gets Us Movement. Not all revivals and Christian claimed movements are true. So while it may seem that Christianity is on the rise and that people are turning to Christ, as people, we have to be careful that we are seeking after the right truth. Truth can come in forms that are half truths, or flat out lies, so we must be careful to know what is true and what is a half truth and is not even truth at all.
As the Jesus Revolution movie stars at the box office and the world watches the aftermath of the 2023 Asbury Revival, as Americans we ought to be proud that we are a nation that allows religious liberty. We can worship where we choose and worship who we choose and that is important to our national history and our livelihood as a nation. The first amendment to the Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
First amendment rights are talked about in light of free speech, freedom of the press, and the right to petition the government, but the first clause of the first amendment has to do with religious liberty. Revivals have been a part of our national history and religious liberty is enshrined in our Constitutions, and therefore as Americans we should strive to protect our religious liberty and remember how important religious liberty is to our history and who we are as a nation.