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A pastor’s plea

The old legend of Rip Van Winkle has a powerful prophetic warning for all of us. As the story goes, Rip leaves his hometown, comprised of strong British Loyalists and climbs up the Catskill Mountains only to bump into a group of mythical people. They give him a solution to drink that causes him to fall into a 20-year sleep.

Rip wakes 20 years later sporting a long gray beard with his trusty rifle in rusty pieces beside him. His dog is long gone. He strolls down the mountain and saunters back into town loudly declaring his allegiances to the British throne. To his utter shock, he nearly gets ‘tarred and feathered’ because of the total change in the political climate. Unbeknownst to him, his hometown had switched allegiances during his long sleep.

Similarly, as we in the Western Church have been sleeping soundly. The moral, theological, and social climate has been changing around us. What the Church held to for nearly 2,000 years is now disappearing quickly. Issues like the same-sex lifestyle, gender identity, and an assortment of biblical hermeneutics are quickly challenging what was once held to as clear, God-inspired truth.

The Church has been guilty of a serious lack of compassion to those wrestling with these powerful struggles; and now she’s guilty of quickly abandoning truth altogether. The waters of clarity and truth have been muddied, the fog is upon us, and powerless dialogue is replacing the desperate cry for a heaven sent revival. What can we do?

I recommend we follow Daniel in his groans for spiritual and moral transformation, as he called on God in deep, sustained intercessory prayer. It’s important to note that Daniel is not pointing any fingers, but is including himself in the nation’s disobedience: “Oh Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of love with all who love and obey His commands, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our fathers, and to all the people of the land” (Daniel 9:4-6).

To contextualize Daniel’s cry we might say; “Oh Lord Jesus, wake us up. Please don’t let us sleep any longer. We repent of our lack of passion for your holy glory. We’ve been so slovenly and sluggish in our application of the powerful gospel. We’ve been pampered, loveless, cold-hearted, and filled with sins of all kinds.

“Now we’re quickly abandoning the faith once and forever handed down to us. Please, Lord Jesus, though we don’t deserve it, pour out a spirit of conviction and revelation. Give us a vision of Your supreme glory. We are in desperate need of repentance and an awakening. Lord, send us a revival of historic proportions.

Glenn Loewen is the pastor of Portage Evangelical Church in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba and wrote this piece in response to the column “Love: Our highest calling” by Thomas Froese (ChristianWeek, April 2014).

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