I was born months after the Empire Strikes Back, the second Star Wars movie, premiered. I remember playing with Star Wars toys at a very young age, and I remember when my parents took my brother and me to see Return of the Jedi. I grew up loving Star Wars, but eventually that faded. Like many young boys, in Elementary school I went through a dinosaur phase. I also really liked Ghostbusters, then Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and then comic books got my interest. By the time I was in 7th grade, Star Wars was all but forgotten about. It had been years since I had seen any of the movies, and Star Wars had more or less faded into a distant memory of something I used to like a long time ago from a galaxy far, far away.
However, on a lazy summer day when I was in middle school that all changed. I went looking through a stack of old movies that had not been watched in a long time. Out of that stack I picked the original Star Wars. That afternoon I saw that movie again as if for the first time. The film lit my eyes and imagination up like nothing else. It was on that summer day when my fandom was revived, and over two decades years later it is still going strong.
All it took was a single spark to reignite something that had long been dormant. That is what a revival is after all, it is a spark. Because of how the word has been used and potentially abused over the years, we sometimes tend to have the wrong idea about a revival. Often we think of a revival as a Billy Graham style crusade only in a tent. We tend to associate a revival with altar calls, sinner prayers, and evangelistic efforts to share the gospel with people for the first time. That is not what a revival is meant to be though. The goal of a revival is not to make new disciples, it is to remind the faithful why they are faithful. A revival is meant to be the spark that renews a faith that may just be coasting by, smoldering, or has gone cold.
When someone becomes a fan of something there is a catalyst or a spark that gets it started. It is reading that book, seeing that movie, playing with that toy, or just having a friend who is really passionate and that passion pulls others in. In the same way people of faith have had a similar experience where their faith was first kindled. Everyone who is a Christian has experienced this moment. There was a time when the heart of a believer first said yes to God’s yes, the belief that God raised Jesus from the dead took deep root in the heart, and a proclamation of belief was made. For some this may have been at an energetic worship service at camp or even under the tent. For others it may been at the depths of a dark time. Only upon reaching rock bottom did they finally realize that they could not save themselves. Perhaps, for others they grew up in the church. One day there was finally a subtle moment that caused faith to be more than tradition, but something very real and warming in their heart. Faith is like fire, it is a pile of dead things until a spark ignites it and gives it life. What makes people Christians, and not just people who think church is fun, is that we have had this spark in our life, a catalyst that made Jesus real to us, and ignited our heart with the love of God.
The thing about fire is that it only blazes as long as you keep feeding it. Being a fan of something often works the same way. I love Star Wars so I read all the novels, I play all of the games, and my Instagram feed is mostly a collection of Star Wars memes. My constant engagement with the thing I love keeps my passion for it high. Faith works the same, but often our faith takes a back seat in life. Work gets busy, Kids get older and driving them takes a lot of effort, a major illness seems to consume everything, or the life starts feeling less like an adventure and more like a rut. The fire that once burned so brightly, is now diminished. It lays dormant, but it is not out.
No matter how dormant it might be everyone who has by faith you have ever accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior has a flame of faith inside of them. It does not matter how cold it feels, it is not extinguished. There are many people who claim affiliation with a church that the charge of Revelation 2:4 can be leveled against, “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.”
How is the fire in your heart this day? If it does not burn as brightly as it used to then, may you remember that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, and God out of God’s great mercy has saved you. May you earnestly work on revival to keep the fires of faith lit. To have a faith burns brightly does not require you to be a slick-talking, bible-thumping, revival evangelist. It requires a return to your first love, and remembering God loves you so much that he sent his son to die for you. Be revived by the knowledge that you are forgiven, that your sins are as far as the East is from the West, and there is nothing that will ever separate you form the love of God.