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Volume 14, Issue 3: Eschaton

What Optimism Looks Like

Jack Van Deventer

Have you ever stopped to ponder what your community would look like if God blessed it with revival? Knowing the Bible addresses all areas of life, one would expect a reformation to significantly transform churches, families, and cultures. If God were to bring about reformation, what do you suppose would change first if the gospel took root in your town?

My first inclination in this thought experiment is to imagine bold and uncompromising preaching, emanating from the pulpits of churches around town. The impact of such preaching would bring a breath of fresh air to some and a terrifying fear of damnation to others. Some would rejoice in God's salvation and others would beg to know how to be saved. The declaration of the gospel would make it abundantly clear, to the godly and ungodly alike, that a sovereign God administers covenantal blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. All would know that actions have consequences and that one reaps what one sows.
Reverence of Almighty God in the worship service would accompany the authoritative proclamation of the Word. The church service would take on a more solemn tone as congregations grasped with joy and fear the majesty of the God who reigns supreme. Man-centered entertainment extravaganzas would yield to Christ-centered worship. Doctrinally rich hymns would replace mind-numbing choruses. The singing of psalms would make trite sing-song ditties an embarrassing and distant memory. The Sabbath meal would be joyfully celebrated, with deep red wine replacing Welch's grape juice at the Lord's Table. Imagine young and old alike praying, singing psalms, embracing the preached Word, celebrating the covenant meal, and lifting their hands in reverent worship before the Lord. The Sabbath celebration, the worship of God in spirit and in truth, would be the highlight of the week. Reformation would be characterized by a restoration of Christ-centered worship. And a church centered on Christ is a church poised to flourish. What defenses would the ungodly have against such worship blessed of God? None whatsoever.
As churches mature, so would families. When fathers, as the spiritual heads of their families, exercise leadership, wives and children rejoice. The loved and nurtured wife respects her husband, the sons grow up wanting to be like their dad, and the daughters grow up wanting husbands who are like their father. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of arrows, whose children know and love the Lord. But what are arrows if not weapons? Arrows are aimed, sent forth, and expected to have an impact. And the bigger the impact the better. The more arrows the merrier. Children are the next generation of warriors in the ever-expanding kingdom of God.
Now imagine the community effect of hundreds of Christian families whose children are equipped with a rigorous Christian education, who have catechisms memorized, and all 150 psalms memorized as songs in their heads. I daresay these young people would be highly regarded in a community fed up with the trash-talking, blue-haired, MTV generation. It would be the Christian kids whom the businesses would seek to employ for their honesty, reliability, work ethic, and customer service. These are the young people who would become leaders in the community, setting the standard of excellence in their Christian schools and homeschools, starting businesses, and raising the next generation of godly children.
A covenant community of believers would know how to rejoice before the Lord. They would have festive celebrations, the most joyful weddings, the best dances, and the most elegant balls. The pagans could only hope to party so well. Who but Christians has the most reason to celebrate? And the Christians would have the best music, the best choirs, orchestras, and bands, too.
Christians would run the academically superior schools. And the government education centers with all their tax money couldn't begin to compete. They would flounder and fail, while continuing to ask for more money from taxpayers "for the children." Wouldn't it be great if the whole community, knowing where the best education was, withdrew its support from the failing government school system? Eventually government education would no longer be an option. The contrast between Christian education and government indoctrination would be so great no one would want what the government offered even when offered for "free."
The Christians would own the best restaurants, be the best builders, the best realtors and mortgage lenders. They would manufacture the best products and provide the best service. Christians would be the most respected leaders and statesman in the political realm, characterized by integrity and service, while maintaining a proper perspective on the biblical role of civil government.
These are some of the elements of reformation I can envision as I anticipate the blessing of God as He draws all men to Himself in fulfillment of the Great Commission. Our hope is in Christ and He will bring about the transformation of the world according to His design. In the meantime we rest in the assurance that all dominion and authority belong to Him and He will sanctify the world according to His plan. In Christ we have cause for optimism.

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