The book of Acts begins with a promise from Jesus that the Holy Spirit will come and empower His church to be His witnesses. Jesus says in Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” The rest of the book is an account of the unfolding of Acts 1:8. And it makes for exciting reading! Continually we read that the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
When we read the book of Acts we should pray that the Spirit would empower us to be Christ’s witnesses in the same way. But let me ask you a question. Are you prepared for how the Lord might answer that prayer?
We might forget that the way the Spirit grew the church in Acts was by leading them into persecution, driving them out of their comfort zone, and placing them in situations where all they could do was to trust Him to work. Suffering and revival were co-mingled from the church’s inception. It was part of their DNA. Therefore, in response to opposition, the early church did not pray for safety but for boldness (Acts 4:29)!
But middle-class, safety-oriented, program-driven, status quo-maintaining Christianity is not built to respond to suffering and persecution with this kind of boldness. We want revival, but only if the Lord uses means that we’re comfortable with. An expectation of suffering and loss is no longer part of our DNA, so we assume revival should come without hardships.
But what if hardships are the means God uses to answer our prayers for revival? What if the results of this election are a means God uses to drive us out of our comfort zone? What if the loss of religious liberty is part of God’s plan for the spread of the Gospel? What if God needs to strip away the good things we tend to idolize, in order to bring the kind of growth we long for?
This is exactly what He did with the church in Acts. The Spirit brought revival through the pathway of suffering. Brothers & sisters, are you so hungry for a spiritual awakening in our church, our community, our nation, and our world that you are willing for God to use any means necessary to bring it? When believers pray fervently for revival with this kind of abandon, His answer to their prayers is always good…but it is never safe.