And with that [Jesus] breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit”—John 20:22, NIV.
When our children were elementary, and maybe even middle school age, my wife instituted the “couch of peace” to enable our children to resolve their arguments (bickering) with one another. When a sharp disagreement between our children bitterly reached an impasse, they would be sent to sit on the couch of peace in what was then the sitting room of our home. While sitting side by side on the couch of peace they had to hold hands until they talked it through and forgave one another. At first, they would always be silent. They were unwilling to look at or talk with one another even though they were holding hands. Eventually, their posture toward one another would soften. They would then talk and eventually start laughing and forgive one another. Soon they were off the couch of peace and about the business of enjoying one another and enjoying life. The couch of peace was a way for them to take a deep breath and calm down.
Don’t you just wish there was a couch of peace during election year? In many ways, the couch of peace would be beneficial for the supporters of candidates, also. I’ve really started limiting my time on social media because of the political rhetoric that is less about a candidate’s platform and more about how horrible their opponent would be for the country, state, city, etc. I do not have any empirical evidence, but I am guessing that this type of back and forth bickering does nothing to sway someone’s vote or stance. I do believe that this type of bickering can and does cause deep divisions, even among members of the body of Christ. We still have a few weeks left until the election season is behind us. So, please, let’s all just take a deep breath.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not advocating that we withdraw ourselves from the political process and voting our convictions. I have my convictions, which impact my political leanings and my voting. I have a political science degree and have always been fascinated with history and the workings of our governmental structures. As Methodists, we have a long and rich history of influencing the political process because we know that elected officials and their policies impact people at home and around the world, as well as the environment.
Perhaps I’m stating the obvious, but it seems to me that the deep breath we need to breathe in must be the Holy Spirit. While many in our nation look to the next great political leader in turbulent times and in a turbulent world, the Church must open up to the power of the Holy Spirit to bring lasting change in lives of individuals, in our communities, our nation, and our world. In other words, more than promoting the candidate and party of our preference, we need the people of God praying for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit for revival.
Revival always occurs in the context of a people longingly praying for the Holy Spirit to show up. In Revival Rising: Preparing for the Next Great Wave of Awakening (Franklin, TN: Seedbed 2016), Mark Nysewander encourages the followers of Christ to pray for revival. I’ve adapted one of the prayers from his book that I encourage you to join me in praying:
Lord Jesus Christ, revive us! We repent of our weak resolve and ask your forgiveness. Send on us the irresistible force of your Spirit. Empower us to pursue revival until we see it. Amen. (11)
Let’s all take a deep breath that we may receive the reviving and life giving breath of the Holy Spirit.
Central’s Executive Pastor