I attended a small local church prayer meeting recently where, among other things, some of us prayed for revival, conviction and conversion in our area.
When I hear prayers like that , I often wonder if people know what ‘revival’ even looks like – or would recognize it if they saw it.
Few of us have seen revival on a large scale; in fact few of us encounter it directly and powerfully on an individual and personal level.
The New Testament portrayal of conversion is a total reversal, a ‘turning around’ in one’s life.
Paul is one such example of a complete shifting of the full energy and passion of one’s life.
But we see many others, from the blustering and temperamental Peter becoming an evangelist to the ‘sons of thunder’ behind their load and brutish ways to become carriers of compassion.
Among these, one of these stands out as a striking example of a public conversion.
You can find it in Luke 19:1-9.
Here we see Zacchaeus, who has made a good living by demanding ‘just a little extra’ from his clients, but is eager to meet Jesus and turn his life over to God.
When conversion hits him, he realizes with a shock, not only that he has cheated people, but what he should do about it.
Jesus doesn’t need to tell him, he just knows. He says “Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Could you imagine what a true conversion of someone from Countrywide, Bank of America, Chase Bank, Goldman Sachs or the Walton family would look like?
Could we even picture what it would be like if even one of these corrupt and rapacious mortgage companies repaid their victims four times what they had been cheated?
Could we even imagine what the trillions of dollars locked away in Swiss banks, the Cayman Islands and other tax hideaways would do if set to work in our economy?
Could any of us imagine what a quadruple refund of every late fee, penalty or service charge would do for us and our economy? We should, because this is what conversion looks like.
In fact Jesus says (Luke 19:9) that this is what salvation looks like.
Yes, we know what ‘revival’ looks like – it looks like restoration, justice and generosity. Pray for it only if you dare.
Morf Morford considers himself a free-range Christian who is convinced that God expects far more of us than we can ever imagine, but somehow thinks God knows more than we do. To pay his bills, he’s been a teacher for adults (including those in his local county jail) in a variety of setting including Tribal colleges, vocational schools and at the university level in the People’s Republic of China. Within an academic context, he also writes an irreverent ESL blog and for the Burnside Writers Collective. As he’s getting older, he finds himself less tolerant of pettiness and dairy products.