I had a few emails regarding last week’s blog, which added more followers to my blog than anything else I have ever posted. Most were overwhelmingly positive, and I can see that it is the right time to start releasing some of the things which have been held tight in my heart for years. You see a revelation should not always be released immediately, sometimes it needs to be percolated for many, many years before the time is right. Now is the time to start talking about revival in the UK. A couple of emails were negative – “why should we believe an angel spoke to you” sort of thing – and the answer is you shouldn’t. I am not asking anyone to believe anything, I am just telling you what happened to me. You don’t have to believe it, I have nothing to gain out of this, I am just telling the truth of my experience.
I believe that one of the things that will hinder any movement – be it church, para-church ministry, Bible School, revival, missionary work – is that if we fail to realize it is all about people. My precious friend, Will Graham, says “I love people”, and that is the heart of everything we do in the kingdom of God – it all revolves around people. God loves people. You don’t have to know your Bible that well to realize that God loves people.
In Genesis 1, you can see that God made the stars, the sun, the moon, the vegetables, the plants, the animals, the fish, the birds and all of it was for one reason – God loved people, and wanted them to have a great world to live in and be in charge of. God made Adam in charge of the planet. God gave Adam and Eve a whole planet as a present, that’s an awesome present, however you look at it, and it was stock full of amazing things:
Then God said, “Let us make a man—someone like ourselves, to be the master of all life upon the earth and in the skies and in the seas.”
So God made man like his Maker.
Like God did God make man;
Man and maid did he make them.
And God blessed them and told them, “Multiply and fill the earth and subdue it; you are masters of the fish and birds and all the animals. And look! I have given you the seed-bearing plants throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And I’ve given all the grass and plants to the animals and birds for their food.” Then God looked over all that he had made, and it was excellent in every way. This ended the sixth day. (Genesis 1.26-31, Living Bible)
God made everything beautiful and wonderfully with one goal in mind – for people. A builder builds a house for one reason – for people, and God built this planet with one goal – people. Man was not an afterthought when God created the planet, every star, every planet was created with God in mind. The whole balance of nature was designed by God for humanity.
When Adam and Eve messed up, God stepped in and told them “I will crush the devil’s head. I will smash it up and flatten it for you, and I will do it with the seed of a woman” (Genesis 3.15). God was prophesying the virgin birth and showing how much He cares for people, even fallen, broken, disobedient, faithless people!
You read through the Old Covenant, and God never leaves His people without a sacrifice to cover their sin. Sin has never stopped God from loving and caring for humanity. It has never stopped God from caring about you and loving you. God accepted the blood of animals with grace because He loves people. Then one day, John the Baptist saw the point of it all as He met Jesus, and cried out “This is the LAMB OF GOD, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1.29).
God had provided the greatest sacrifice of all time for His people. Because God loves people. Abraham knew it was coming – God showed Him on the mountain that He has provided a sacrificial lamb to take Abraham’s son’s place. God saw your sin before you were born and made a provision to take care of that sin.
This is such an important truth to learn, because in some places and some ministries people have confused revival and the increased godliness and holiness that flows from revival into the wrong idea that God only loves people who meet a certain standard. This is not true. God loves people when they are fallen, broken, messed up, hate Him, ignore Him, don’t care about people, are lost, lonely, spiteful, petty and mean. GOD LOVES PEOPLE! And if we see revival but don’t hold this central, what we have will slip through our fingers.
Jesus loves people. Jesus’ heart was for sinners – selfish, mean people. He told Matthew to follow Him, when Matthew was a traitor to his nation, a thief, a liar and a wicked man. Yet Jesus called Matthew to be an apostle in the first revival of all, the early church. Jesus then went to Zacchaeus’s house. These guys were well known bad guys, and their friends were not good company, but Jesus got right in the middle of their groups because Jesus loves sinners, and He still loves sinners today.
Here is a question for you, that needs an answer. When was the last time you had dinner with an A1-quality, top level sinner?
As Jesus was going on down the road, he saw a tax collector, Matthew, sitting at a tax collection booth. “Come and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him, and Matthew jumped up and went along with him.
Later, as Jesus and his disciples were eating dinner at Matthew’s house, there were many notorious swindlers there as guests!
The Pharisees were indignant. “Why does your teacher associate with men like that?”
“Because people who are well don’t need a doctor! It’s the sick people who do!” was Jesus’ reply. Then he added, “Now go away and learn the meaning of this verse of Scripture,
‘It isn’t your sacrifices and your gifts I want—I want you to be merciful.’
For I have come to urge sinners, not the self-righteous, back to God.
(Matthew 9.9-13, Living Bible)
Jesus loved, and Jesus loves sinners. Matthew 11.19 calls Jesus the friend of sinners. He was a friend of the people that religious people would never accept, that religious people would never get to know. That is our God, that is the heart of our God, and if you want the heart of God you need to find some sinners to befriend and love.
Some people love God with all their heart, but cannot stand people. But the second command is like the first – love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22.39).
Think of the great apostles of the early church – they were nobodies until Jesus spent time with them. Peter walked on water, Peter divided food to feed thousands – yet what happened when Jesus was betrayed? Peter denied he even know Jesus, in fact, Peter lied like a dog and swore like a trooper. Do you think that the Last Supper was where Peter picked up his language problem, or do you think he had an issue with swearing for some time before?
Some of the jobs I have had in my life, you would think people had a degree in swear words. They were fluent – but if you could swear and shout after three years of walking with Jesus you must have had a real problem to start with! But the great news is that despite Peter swearing, despite Peter denying that he was even a friend of Jesus, within just seven weeks, Jesus chose Peter to preach at the first revival meeting ever. That’s grace, that’s love, that’s the heartbeat of Jesus!
James and John were called “sons of thunder” – they wanted to torch a whole village of people for rejecting Jesus. Jesus’ disciples were not super-men, they were no different than today. People haven’t changed. Sin has never changed. Grace has never changed. People who lie and swear today are just like the lying, swearing people from Bible days. The prostitutes today are just like the Bible days prostitutes that were friends of Jesus!
Jesus said you don’t need me if you are well, only the sick need a doctor. The person who is not right with God has a disease called sin, and this is not a bodily disease, it is a spiritual one, and only Doctor Jesus can change the inside of a person. And God loves sinners because God loves people.
We have to change our hearts, because revival is not about hiding in the prayer closet and wishing people around us would magically stop being wicked, selfish, liberal, whatever it is about people that makes us not like them. No – it means going into all the world and meeting people, and liking them. It means you as a Christian dealing with your prejudices and hatred, and bigotry, and indifference, and callousness. Do that, and your life will be louder than life. Most Christians their actions and body language speak louder than the gospel they claim to believe.
Some Christians are racist. They won’t even go to a church with people from other races. Some Christians cannot put their arm around all kind of people – there are certain kinds of people who they just couldn’t love, and that needs to change.
What about you? Can you demonstrate the love of God to all people? Can you embrace the world? Could you die for the world? How about live for them? This is the heartbeat of revival – it is where revival must start, and what sustains it.
I will talk more of this next week, and will discuss the Good Samaritan, the greatest example of love. Subscribe to the blog to ensure you get on board to read it, and why not comment below and let us know how God is dealing with you to love all humanity.