October 31st is Reformation Day in many protestant countries here in Europe. In 1517, Martin Luther, a monk, nailed what came to be called his 95 Theses to the door at a church in Wittenberg, Germany. It was the start of the Reformation and a massive change in the way people experienced their faith.
Luther was bothered by many extra-biblical practices of the Catholic Church at that time. He wanted, among other things, to call people back to a more heart-felt faith, a real trust in Christ rather than superstitious rituals. History is full of God using individuals to call us back to a fresh encounter with him. It seems that in our human nature, there is a tendency towards spiritual entropy, a gradual deterioration of our spiritual vitality.
In the 18th century, God raised up John Wesley, a powerful preacher, who had a huge impact. He wrote, “The essential part of Christian holiness is giving your heart wholly to God.” Mere head knowledge of doctrine and theology wasn’t what God was looking for.
D.L. Moody was an unlikely candidate to be an evangelist, but his ministry was infused with passion for a living relationship with Jesus. Thousands of people came to faith through his ministry in the 19th century. Through new technology in the 20th century, Billy Graham called millions of people to a relationship with Jesus. Many of his converts had a church background but had never understood the nature of a personal relationship with Jesus.
Paul tells the Romans they should “never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11) It can be easy to slip into a lukewarm faith. There are many challenges to our Christian walk, but the greatest danger often seems to lie in our lack of nurturing our spiritual vitality.
Make sure that you are keeping some zeal in your spiritual life. We need personal revival every now and then, even as we need corporate revivals. Don’t grow cold or lukewarm through neglect. The best way to keep a church alive and healthy is to guard our own spiritual faith and fervor.