Disconnected From Biblical Roots, America Drifts Blindly Towards Destruction
Will Tim Tebow Spark an American Revival?
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America is in full-blown crisis. The continuous dysfunction in our government and culture at large reflect this. The American family has imploded and hundreds of millions are hooked on psychotropic drugs. Our national debt is a giant $15 trillion tumor on our economy while the welfare state explodes. Pornography is omnipresent, 80% of new diseases are STDs, while 50 million babies have been aborted. Our Arts have fallen into mindless depravity and utter darkness and cannot uplift their audience. Our ability to reason and debate have evaporated, leaving mindless emotions behind.
The honest admit America is a gravely ill land - both emotionally and spiritually. We have become a licentious, rude, self-centered, illiterate, perverse, complaining, short-sighted, illogical, cold, impious, disloyal, greedy, bitter, materialistic, ungodly, gossiping, irreligious land full of idolatry. Despite the fact that nearly 80% of Americans claim to be Christians, as a society, we allow doubters to set the rules for daily life. Is Jesus dying in America? Perhaps Nietzsche was correct when he wrote: ” Whither is God?...We have killed him—you and I. All of us are his murderers.” In other words, we need revival.
A “revival” is defined as the bringing of new life to dead churches, institutions, persons and societies via the Holy Spirit. Great revivals in history have inordinately affected the West. For example, colonial historians claim the revival immediately preceding the American Revolution gave the Founders the logic, faith and bravery to defy England. The question asked in this essay is whether the exploits, character and religious affections of Timothy Richard Tebow might spark a return to our spiritual roots, and possibly save America from its current precipitous decline?
I. Tebow Overview
Tim Tebow’s Broncos lost monumentally in the NFL playoffs the weekend of January 15, 2012. But even if he were permanently deprived of football tomorrow, his mark on America is cemented. Already, you’d have to be deaf, dumb and blind to not have noticed the Tim Tebow phenomenon. He is the starting quarterback of the NFL’s Denver Broncos. He is regarded by some as the greatest college football player in history. Yet, given poor mechanics in his throwing motion, he was dismissed as a professional football prospect. But other experts took the measure of the young man and claim his leadership, work ethic and other intangibles made him an outstanding prospect. Admittedly the latter are the minority opinion.
It therefore surprised many when Tebow was taken in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft. He then made a splash upon winning a few games let in 2010 when allowed the opportunity to play. During the next summer, Tebow drifted to the bottom of the depth chart and many wondered if he had any future in the league. Then, something uncanny transpired. After Denver started the year 1-4, a fevered campaign was launched by fans demanding he be played—including a billboard. Management relented, and he was allowed to start and compiled a 7-1 record before experiencing three straight defeats. Yet, improbably, the Broncos executed an improbable back-flip into the playoffs, where they won one game, then lost the next.
Yet, the real Tebow story gripping America is not his athletic prowess, but instead his apparent humility and Christian witness which appears to have no parallel in modern America.
What is a “revival”? Generally speaking, a revival is a revitalization of the church, especially regarding obedience, purity, and outspokenness regarding the elements of faith. Charles Spurgeon, the minister regarded by some as the greatest preacher of the 19th century, defined “revival” this way:
While a true revival in its essence belongs only to God’s people, it always brings with it a blessing for the other sheep who are not yet of the fold. Let the Lord revive a believer and very soon his family, his friends, his neighbors, receive a share of the benefit; for when a Christian is revived, he prays more fervently for sinners.
When Christians are revived they live more consistently, they make their homes more holy and more happy, and this leads the ungodly to envy them, and to enquire after their secret. Sinners by God’s grace long to be like such cheerful happy saints; their mouths water to feast with them upon their hidden manna, and this is another blessing, for it leads men to seek the Savior.
Church historians point out that revival can occur when a nation is in the midst of more decline, and a pervasive sense of confusion and unease hangs over the disconsolate people. One Christian writer lists 9 elements characterizing revivals:
- They occurred in times of moral darkness and national depression;
- Each began in the heart of a consecrated servant of God who became the energising power behind it;
- Each revival rested on the Word of God, and most were the result of proclaiming God’s Word with power;
- All resulted in a return to the worship of God;
- Each witnessed the destruction of idols where they existed;
- In each revival, there was a recorded separation from sin;
- In every revival the people returned to obeying God’s laws;
- There was a restoration of great joy and gladness;
- Each revival was followed by a period of national prosperity.
In the Old Testament, the revival brought about by King Hezekiah was a classic study of the topic. One theologian offers a brief outline,
Hezekiah’s Revival—I Kings 18:1-8
I. He served the Lord from his Youth
a. Began at 25 years old, a young king doing what right in the sight of the Lord
b. Walked in the ways of his forefather David. While young, he walked in the old paths
c. He DID what was right in the sight of the Lord
II. He purified the worship of the Land
a. He removed the high places—Jehovah worship at the wrong place in the wrong way
b. He broke the idols
c. He destroyed Nehustan—idolatry of tradition
III. He was a man of God
a. He trusted the Lord
b. No other king like him in the history of Judah
c. He CLAVE to the Lord
d. He followed the Lord
e. He kept the commandments
IV. God’s Blessing
a. God was with Him
b. God prospered him
c. He overthrew the bondage of Assyria
d. He defeated the Palestinians
e. This all happened while Israel (the northern kingdom) was carried away into Assyrian captivity
For any person claiming to be Christian, revival is a quintessential need because such men and women realize that the strength of the church in any society is the work of God. Mankind, on his own, is utterly hamstrung and powerless to make the world a better place.
III. American Revival—Great Awakening
There have been many important revivals in church history. A few American revivals have shaken the States to their core, forever altering our character. For example, consider The Great Awakening,
The Great Awakening, the most important event in American religion during the 18th century, was a series of emotional religious revivals spreading across the American colonies between 1730s—1740s. In New England, in particular, the Great Awakening represented a reaction against the growing formality and the dampening of religious fervor in churches. The Great Awakening carried profound consequences for the future. It was the first experience shared by large numbers of people throughout all the American colonies, and therefore contributed to the growth of a common American identity. It also produced a deepened consciousness of sin within the existing social order and aroused a faith that Americans stood within reach of Christ’s second coming.
The affects of the Great Awakening were to set America on a collision course with England because a true understanding of biblical theology is an antidote to tyranny. Writes one author:
The major effect of the Awakening was a rebellion against authoritarian religious rule which spilled over into other areas of colonial life. Though a religious movement, the Awakening had repercussions in cultural and political spheres as well. Practices and mind-sets were changed by the Awakening like never before. The effect of Great Awakening unity was an attitude that went against the deferential thinking that consumed English politics and religion. Rather than believing that God’s will was necessarily interpreted by the monarch or his bishops, colonists viewed themselves as more capable of performing the task. The chain of authority no longer ran from God to ruler to people, but from God to people to ruler. The children of revivalism later echoed this radicalism and popular self-righteousness in the American Revolution, when self-assertion turned against the tyrannical ways of George III. It was not to any church that the signers of the Declaration of Independence appealed to, but directly to the “Supreme Judge of the World”. It was through the revivalism of the first half of the 18th century that the colonists were finally able to step out from under the protectorate of the established Christian churches and assert religious control over their own nation’s destiny. So another effect of the Great Awakening on colonial culture was development of the idea of state rule as a contract with the people.
So many of America’s current problems, including rampant deficit spending, contradictory foreign policy, and tyrannical acts by the current government would be addressed by a revived America. Despite the fact that it may seem too late for America to revive and repent, one never knows when such a movement might strike the land.
IV. Is it Too Late for an American Revival?
One of the chief reasons Tim Tebow is hated is because he makes viewers realize their selfishness and sinfulness. For even in failure, Tebow exhibits a sweetness of disposition and a larger purpose than probably any other American professional athlete. By contrast he exposes frauds and phonies through his guileless manner. This incenses some of the supposed 80% of Americans who claim to have Christian beliefs. Or, as the Apostle Paul wrote (2 Corinthians 2:12-17),
For we are unto God a sweet smell of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To one we are the smell of death unto death; and to the other the smell of life unto life.
It is doubtless Tebow stirs up passions because he puts folks on the spot about what they believe—or who they really are versus whom they claim to be. But a more trenchant issue is that Tebow shows the way towards a deeper level of faith, commitment and Christ-likeness which represents the possibility for repentance, a more committed relationship with God, or of the opportunity for salvation.
The question of this essay is whether Tebow’s example will act as a model for society-wide repentance that might break out into a full-bore revival? For there is deep disaffection in this culture over the state of the church and the worldliness all around us. Further, the average American has a deep longing to see their beliefs honored and lived out.
A revival can be started by the work of a single faithful person, as others are energized and motivated by their example. This occurs because Believers begin to renew their faith seeing it lived out by others. It makes their own belief suddenly seem more real. And given his obvious Christ-like qualities and open faith, we should not be surprised to see Tebow spark a revival in the near future in America. After all, superstar quarterbacks like Tom Brady might end up with all the rings, while Tebow lands the greater prize of crowns. A Scriptural model for revival is found in Second Chronicles 7:14—
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”