Can the Church Seize the Moment?
by Dr. Luder Whitlock
...as the door closes on the second millenium A.D., we offer our hearts to the Lord anew, trusting that He will work in and around our efforts to launch what may be that new Reformation that we have been working and praying for so vigorously.
Something unusual is happening. It cannot be denied and we ignore it to our peril. A spiritual stirring is evident in the land, broader and more sustained than anything in years. Millions of Americans have embarked on a fresh search for the sacred, seemingly determined to continue until their innermost longings have been satisfied. They are trying to connect spiritually. They want to experience God.
Indicating a hunger for the Lord, their spiritual quest finds its center in a consuming interest in the inner life. George Gallup, Jr., during a recent conversation, expressed his amazement at the unparalleled interest in spiritual things in this country, a phenomenon he has never seen in his years of research.
The local bookstores are a good example of this high interest level. Consider the overwhelming response to Dakota and Cloister Walls by Kathleen Norris. Henri Nouwen has a huge following, as demonstrated by the number of his volumes currently in stock. The publishing frenzy among evangelicals is apparent, too -- whether Eugene Peterson, Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, J.I. Packer, or others.
In some ways it is ironic that, on the heels of the "God is Dead" movement and the powerful secularizing tide that followed it -- threatening to wipe religion off the walls and from the rooms of public places -- this robust religious quest has emerged and not only endures but is gathering momentum. It has become a force, influencing pastors, congregations, denominations, and seminaries.
Not only is this spiritual stirring a major phenomenon - not to be ignored - but it also offers the greatest opportunity in decades for a genuine spiritual renewal and awakening. If the church is sensitive to this opportunity and marshals its energies to respond to the apparent activity of God's Spirit, who knows what may happen? There is every possibility of a mammoth spiritual resurgence that could radically change the way people think and live, perhaps as much as the Great Awakening of the 1700s. If the Christian church seizes this grand window of opportunity, the next one hundred years could become the Christian century that was anticipated in 1900. What a way to begin the next millenium!
Of course, huge obstacles stand in the way. Who shouldn't be concerned about the moral decay that has eaten away at the core of our country? The future undoubtedly hangs in the balance. But God is at work, and when things look the worst He often does his greatest work. Take heart - God is in control.
Years ago John Calvin set a fine example for us. A man of unusual intellectual ability, he became identified by his seal, offering his flaming heart to God for sincere service. During this pivotal time in history, as the door closes on the second millenium A.D., we offer our hearts to the Lord anew, trusting that He will work in and around our efforts to launch what may be that new Reformation that we have been working and praying for so vigorously.
- Dr. Luder G. Whitlock, Jr.
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