I originally wrote this piece in the days following the 2020 presidential election, and posted it to Instagram the day Joe Biden won the presidency. Up until recently, I had spent ten years heavily involved in a megachurch, and prior to that, was raised in an evangelical Christian culture in the Bible Belt. Much of the content you’ll see on this page will reflect that history and my attempts to peel myself away from systems and practices I no longer believe in, and have no more use for. This piece was written mainly to my friends who still involve themselves with the church, but found some resonance outside of my circle. I hope you enjoy it. _________
I’ve seen a lot from Christians in the past few weeks about how desperately you’re praying for revival. I’ve seen photos and videos of thousands of (largely white) Christians gathering without masks in the middle of a pandemic to sing and shout and demand that God send revival to America. This prayer for revival has been on the lips of Christians for years, and after ten years of involvement in a Christian community that grew me into the person I am today, I’d like to ask a question:
How many times have you prayed for something you didn’t fully understand? And how many times did God answer that prayer in a way you weren’t expecting? Without thinking I can name at least three times when my life took a direction that felt like an answered prayer, but wasn’t at all what I had in mind. Christian leaders talk about this all the time: “God wants something better for you than what you can imagine for yourself!” This language is often used ad nauseum to tell single women to “wait for their Boaz,” and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tired of hearing it. But using these familiar terms, I’d like to encourage Christians who do think this way to be open to thinking about a broader picture for a moment.
What if your demands for revival are being granted?
What if your demands for revival in America are coming to pass in the form of people leaving the confines of white supremacist structures in droves? What if the state of the Church over the last 50 years is not “God’s best,” and there’s something better and more beautiful and far more in line with what the Kingdom of God should look like on the horizon?
What if revival looks like choosing to actively love people instead of trying to regulate their actions based no on poor interpretations of scripture? What if revival doesn’t look like the unmasked masses gathering in defiance of a health department mandate in the middle of a pandemic to sing songs about Jesus? What if instead, that’s a blatant display of pride, and true humility is shown by those who stayed home on Sundays to protect their neighbor, knowing they are not immune to a virus that can affect everyone (yes — even people who pray for protection)?
What if revival looks like a grandparent choosing to vote against their preferred party for the first time ever so their grandson can be free to marry the person he loves? What if it looks like forsaking riches so that marginalized groups can have rights? What if revival looks like caring for each other’s physical and financial well-being and creating and choosing policies that reflect that? What if revival looks like a nation where Black people can walk down the street without fearing for their safety, and where transgender and non-binary people are loved and respected for who they are?
White Christianity has glaring flaws that I believe the last four years has revealed in a way that is impossible to ignore. Some of you have begun to open your eyes, but I’m disheartened that so many more continue to screw them shut in a hollow attempt to hold onto perceived power. This revival Christians keep praying for is not about championing a political candidate. It’s not about making everyone in your country bow to your god. It’s about being heaven on earth, in the way that Jesus was. It’s about doing what we can to ease the suffering of others in the here and now.
White Evangelicals, Trump’s biggest supporter base, love to pray that God will “break their hearts for what breaks God’s heart.” I know this because I was raised as an evangelical and identified as one for years. I fervently prayed that prayer myself ten years ago, and ten years later, I believe very differently than I used to. I judge less than I used to. I vote differently than I used to. I no longer see people as prizes to be won for God, or politics as a way to further religious ideals. I don’t think God aligns with a political party anymore (although it needs to be said that God will always align with the marginalized, the poor, the widow, and the orphan, and as followers of Christ it goes without saying that we should, too).
White Christians, Evangelicals especially, this is your opportunity to open yourselves up to a different way of seeing the world. If you thought Trump was God’s messenger, and you thought somehow that he was going to unite this nation, look around you and see the freedom people feel now that he’s no longer in power. I implore you, as someone who knows what it’s like to be in both camps: instead of closing your ears against those who disagree with you, listen. Really listen. You might find the revival you’re looking for in the places you least expect it.