“In all our efforts to cure the disorders of the mind, or what is the same thing, to produce or promote a revival of religion, we are to depend chiefly on the means which God himself has appointed.”
W. B. Sprague, Lectures on Revivals of Religion (Edinburgh, 1978), page 117. Italics added.
I will not take time to qualify Sprague’s wording here about producing revival. He was theologically kosher. I have another interest at this time.
I am struck by how Sprague equates revival with curing the disorders of the mind. True revival is not just an emotional catharsis, though that may well be included. But true revival cures the disorders of our minds – the invalid assumptions that have held us back, but we’ve never seen how defunct they are. Commonly, these disorders are forms of self-exaltation. Their cure includes, primarily, the repentance of God-exaltation.
The Beatitudes can help us objectify the disorders of our self-referential minds. Let’s flip the Beatitudes into their opposites:
Congratulations to the entitled, for this world lies at their feet.
Congratulations to the carefree, for they shall be comfortable.
Congratulations to the pushy, for they shall get ahead.
Congratulations to the greedy, for they shall climb the food chain.
Congratulations to the vengeful, for they shall be feared.
Congratulations to those who don’t get caught, for they shall look good.
Congratulations to the argumentative, for they shall get in the last word.
Congratulations to the popular, for this world lies at their feet.
Doesn’t that describe our world, including our worldly churches? But what happens in revival is this. The gospel captures our minds with such clarity that God is exalted again in our deepest thoughts and feelings. It shows:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3-10
That is what revival looks like. It reveals a change in our whole way of thinking. May God raise up multitudes of Beatitudes-minded churches the whole world over.