Friday, June 3, 2011

BRC: A God-Sized Vision, week 3

This week's reading consisted of the revivals that took place in America from the 1790s to the 1840s. It is generally thought of as the Second Great Awakening. Although the Second Great Awakening touched many other regions of American soil, the authors mostly focused their illustrations on what took place at Yale College through the lens of Timothy Dwight (Jonathan Edwards' grandson).

Dwight was a remarkably young man, extremely brilliant, and when God got hold of his heart, he was a useful tool for ministry. He returned to Yale when he was 43 years old as their president and what he found was a place that was hardly Christian. In 1795, it was said that only 10% of their 125 students would have professed Jesus publicly. That might seem like a lot today. If 10% of the students at Yale today professed Jesus publicly, that would be incredible. But for them, this was through and through a Christian college. That would be like saying 10% of Moody Bible Institute was willing to profess Christ today. That would have been shocking. But then a revival broke out.

APPLICATION POINT #1: Let's Spend Time With People. One of the the things that led to the revival was Dwight's persistence to spend time with his students. We are told, "He taught regularly as professor of theology, preached every week, and advised seniors. Through this regular interaction, students got to know Dwight personally as a humble, pious role model" (64). I hope people in my church will see me as a humble, pious role model. But the only way that will happen is to spend time with them. Live life with them. One of his students had this to say about Dwight:
Oh, how I loved him! I loved him as my own soul, and he loved me as a son....He was universally revered and loved. I never knew but one student undertake to frustrate his wishes." (66)
I want to be that guy who lives so uprightly and is so kind and gracious before people that they will seek me out and think of me as a role model. Of course, not because of me, but because of Jesus and His name I carry as His servant.

The revival broke out. By 1802, we are told that one-third of the Yale student body professed new faith in Jesus (the student body now numbered 230). People joined the church, they became pastors, but most of all, they began living lives pleasing to Christ. But then after those students left, a new batch of students came in with little fervor for Christ. By 1808, much of the fervor was gone.

APPLICATION POINT #2: Let's Not Live Off The Past. I think it is easy to live off of the past. It is easy to tell stories of times of old, when everything was going well. But when we think of our spiritual lives (and the lives of those around us), we need to think of the present. It only took several years for it to leave Yale College (granted, mostly because those excited about Jesus graduated). And look at Yale today? Hardly anything of a college it was started to be.

We must seek out the Lord continually. We are told that Dwight continually led the student body before the throne of God. He prayed for them, and we get the feeling that he prayed for their souls publicly. We are told:
"Never did a minister plead more fervently for his people--never a father more importunately for his children, than he did of his pupils before him. Nor were the wants of the churches, nor the influence of a revival in the college upon the Redeemer's kingdom in the land--in the world, forgotten." (70)
As they prayed, God blessed them with revival again. We are told that a small group of people woke up before 3:30 am on Sunday mornings in order to pray for revival (72). Do we want it that bad?

Now your turn. I know a few of you are reading with me, please post your thoughts so we can be encouraged with each other.

1 comment:

  1. Would we do what we know we ought to do if it were for just one?

    I've been confronted with the issue in my heart of only wanting to be involved in the things of God that are flashy and exciting.  In reality, that means it is more about me than it is about God (which truthfully means it's only about me and not about God at all). This mindset was brought to light in this past chapter when Dwight was defending revival in light of the disingenuous enthusiasm that many people supposed revival to be.  Without denying that some of that was taking place, Dwight made the point that if there was just one genuine convert rescued from eternal damnation it would "balance all the evils."
    This has made me ask myself the question "what value do I put on a soul?". Is my hesitation to plant the seeds of the gospel due to the idea that it will have little to no impact?  Because I can't see myself starting a "great awakening" I sit back and hesitate to do anything.  It's such an arrogant position to be in because it places me in the driver's seat of revival rather than God.


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