Could Mass Marches Across America
be Preparing the Way
for a Nationwide Christ Awakening?
In the Atlantic magazine this week, a headline about the demonstrations across America read: “The town square has come roaring back.” It certainly has around my home.
This past Sunday, I experienced one of the most profound moments of my life as I joined a march.
In many ways, it duplicated what hundreds of thousands of Americans have encountered the past few days in nearly 900 community-wide, overwhelmingly peaceful protest marches for racial justice and equality—held both in major cities and rural villages.
But my march experience became something more for me: Those hours of walking and cheering and praying (yes, praying) stirred in me a wholly unexpected—and yet thoroughly thrilling—hope about what the Spirit of God may be doing in the midst of these daily dramas occurring throughout our nation.
Frankly, I’m wondering if the Spirit of God may be at work across the land, maximizing the ferment in all these events for God’s grander purposes of redemption.
Have you ever considered the possibility that, from coast to coast, we may be witnessing the “birth pangs” of the nationwide Christ Awakening for which countless Christians have been praying for decades?
Looking through my “King Jesus glasses,” I’m beginning to wonder if this historic initiative is moving our nation in Christ’s direction—and, I would argue, at Christ’s direction—preparing us for a national spiritual revolution.
In other words, let’s ask: Could it be that our nation is moving in Christ’s direction—moving toward him during this time of turmoil—because Jesus himself is directing the outcome, using all that seems disruptive to prepare us for the solution: a nationwide Christ Awakening?
No surprise if this is so! It is just what Jesus taught us about how his reign often works. He said he unleashes it like a small amount of invisible leaven embedded in a lump of dough, causing it to swell up in readiness for the oven (Matthew 13).
Let me show you what I see going on and why I have a growing hope in God about what is coming next. I believe you’ll find it well worth your time.
Let me take you inside the surprising developments that unfolded during our protest last Sunday.
Have you joined a protest march where you live anytime in the past couple of weeks? If not, come with me into mine.
On a warm Sunday afternoon, about 3000 fellow citizens of my little community (just 20 minutes from Times Square) banded together, flowing like a mighty river.
It’s true that we were marching in protest. But remember the word “protest” has two meanings, one negative and one more positive: (1) to openly express objection or disapproval; OR (2) to make a solemn or earnest declaration.
Even so, in both senses, we visibly protested but without any violence, as also has been true for 95% of the demonstrations nationwide in the past two weeks. We did so about the following concerns:
AGAINST racism but FOR racial justice and equality.
AGAINST the carnage within the Black community but FOR social, economic, and psychological healing and restoration for our fellow citizens.
AGAINST violence (police and otherwise) but FOR reconciliation (among the races and the classes).
AGAINST the division and strife that is tearing our nation apart but FOR a national moral reset full of forgiveness, compassion, and love.
It was these strong themes that, at least for me, gave me a fresh “feel” for how the Bible describes the kingdom of God. We “protested” for the principles and values, priorities and passions, and emphases on human dignity, community, and flourishing that are highlighted by God’s kingdom ways.
At one point, I was reminded of Jesus’ response to a religious leader who correctly identified the two highest priorities for Israel: Love God and love neighbors. “You are not far from the kingdom of God,” Jesus reassured him.
In the same way, I felt I could say to that multitude on Sunday afternoon: “What you are calling out for indicates that you—and this whole march—are so much closer to what life in the kingdom of God looks like than probably most of you know.”
For example, a whole lot of the ideals found in the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5-7) were being articulated and embraced that day, even if many who marched with me were unaware of the passage.
Therefore, as I said above: Looking through my “King Jesus glasses,” I’m beginning to wonder if this historic initiative is moving our nation in Christ’s direction and at Christ’s direction, preparing us for a nationwide Christ Awakening.
In addition, kingdom-type concerns were echoed by many of the homemade signs people carried as we walked along. Consider this sampling:
A young Black woman’s sign declared: “Who I am is enough!”—suggesting the truth that human dignity has nothing to do with skin tone because each of us has been made in God’s image.
A White woman’s sign admitted: “I can’t understand” (that is, understand the horrendous Black experience in America). Yet it went on to say, “but I can STAND” (that is, stand on behalf of all who are devastated and oppressed by the unjust world around them). This is clearly a kingdom-type calling.
One White man made his point in rhyme: “White silence is White violence.” He meant that for the majority culture—the culture primarily in power—to ignore the suffering of the Black community and its many poor is inexcusable IF, in fact, we could have done something about it. Similarly, God’s kingdom calls its citizens to love others the way Christ loved us by laying down his life for us to make us whole.
Or finally, take this sign: “BLACK lives matter because ALL lives matter.” In other words, if God’s kingdom is “pro-life” (and it is), then that means God’s kingdom is equally, totally pro-BLACK life, in the womb and in the world, just as much as it is pro-MY-life. We always need to act like this toward one another.
Now I’ve given you more reasons why I believe this historic initiative is moving our nation in Christ’s direction and at Christ’s direction, preparing us for a nationwide Christ Awakening.
Today, I got an email from a friend, an internationally respected Christian leader who lives in Houston. He shared his own protest experience from last week. What he reported reinforced my hunch:
I joined about 70,000 as we marched through the downtown to Houston City Hall. Somehow it felt to me like this was a “spiritual manifestation” as many pastors and ministry leaders took the initiative and prayed in the midst of a whole lot of hurting people.
His gathering, too, was bumping up against the kingdom of God!
Could such events as his and mine, taking place from coast to coast, serve as precursors of—and be preparing the way for—a coming Christ Awakening?
Let’s think about this a little more.
What was the impact of the kingdom truths that rang out to the multitude on Sunday?
Flooding the roadway, the thousands who walked the miles with me finally assembled at our Memorial Field. For ninety minutes, we listened to various leaders who solicited countless waves of applause from the crowd as one speaker after another proclaimed the moral urgencies impinging on the future of our nation.
Though the audience was diverse in race and age, most of the speakers were Black GenXer’s, our future leaders. Their talks brimmed with wisdom and graciousness—not anger or resentment. Their appeals were reminiscent of the biblical fervor of a Martin Luther King.
None of them showed anything but humility and respect, even as they passionately called for justice and righteousness, for new perspectives and new policies, and for transformed relationships with law enforcement on behalf of the historically abused and beleaguered African American peoples of our land.
Once again, like the placards in the parade, appeals from the platform were full of kingdom-type values. There was almost a call for Christlikeness at times, whether each speaker had those thoughts in mind or not.
In other words, the event highlighted priorities I would expect any follower of Jesus to endorse and practice. And they were shared with a spirit of love that resembled the love of Christ, which is the heart and soul of God’s kingdom.
The Black leaders also expressed their deeply felt gratitude that afternoon for the unprecedented support coming from the 80% of the audience who were White.
We were urged to work together in coming days with the local Black communities to ensure that this time the results would be different—that what former Newark mayor Sen. Cory Booker called this week a “moral moment” for our nation would ultimately become a “movement” for the realization of the American promise for all of its citizens of all races.
Without a doubt, our gathering echoed the nearness of the kingdom of God! Could hundreds of similar events, taking place all over America, actually be precursors of—and helping to prepare the way for—the coming Christ Awakening?
Furthermore, get this:
The official program at the field opened intentionally with the local Catholic priest leading the crowd (of Christians, non-Christian, Hindus, and other religions) in a spontaneous prayer asking God to “pour out your love on us and through us so that together we may work for your justice for all peoples in our nation.” The gathering responded unexpectedly in one voice with a hearty AMEN!
“You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
So, let me put it to YOU:
Do you think it is possible that everything we’re seeing right now is moving us, directly or indirectly, in Christ’s direction and doing so at Christ’s direction? Could it be that all this turbulence is actually setting the stage for a nationwide Christ Awakening?
Put another way: Are we in a season similar to what the ministry of John the Baptist was all about?
The Bible says John’s primary assignment with the multitudes at the Jordan River was to “prepare the way of the Lord” with them (as the Gospels call it, quoting from Isaiah 40).
John got the people to rise up in anticipation, restless for what Jesus alone could bring—even though neither John nor they knew what to expect, what shape it would take, what the Messiah himself would look like, how he would be revealed to them, or how he would take action—nor what would happen after that.
Essentially, John did all he could do: He preached to them about “kingdom values”—declaring that “the Kingdom is at hand”—in order to bring the crowds into a genuine spirit of brokenness and repentance as well as abounding hope, in readiness for the next chapter.
Finally, the next chapter did begin. It proved to be nothing short of a genuine “Christ Awakening” (as we might call it)—a spiritual revolution that spread throughout the life of the nation. The Jordon uprising spread everywhere starting the day “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” appeared at the river’s edge. It was a whole-life revival—a kingdom of God breakthrough—that has been redeeming and reconstituting peoples among the nations ever since.
Now, the Church in our nation is poised for a similar impact of Christ upon our lives together and then through us upon the whole country—as people in every part of our land begin to become wholly alive to the whole vision of God’s Son today.
The ramifications of this Spirit-driven movement for the kind of moral and social transformation that tens of thousands are marching for are incalculable.
It is that great hope that causes me to believe that what’s happening all around us at this moment is moving us in Christ’s direction and at Christ’s direction, preparing us for a nationwide Christ Awakening.
But I must not end my story without telling you about one sacred moment that Sunday afternoon that really opened my eyes!
There on the open field, there came a point in the program where the crowd was asked to drop to our knees and spend eight minutes and forty-three seconds in total silence in honor of George Floyd—reflecting the agony he endured for that same amount of time while his precious life was being snuffed out of him.
Eight minutes. In silence. On our knees. The entire gathering. A scene I could hardly take in. (At the top of this blog post is the picture I took of that moment.)
The experience took on even more meaning for me as I reflected on it later that day. It represented a prophetic act—a harbinger of an extraordinary outpouring of Christ and his salvation upon our nation, which is so desperately needed.
For me, thousands of knees on the ground recalled the biblical teaching that before seeking “kingdom” values such as racial justice, equality, and reconciliation, we must undergo a change in our HEARTS as Americans—beginning with God’s pe0ple in America. Our hearts must be surrendered to the King himself—Jesus.
The truth is that all of us qualify for a level of soul surgery so radical that we must come before our Redeemer in silence, admitting to him that we can never bring about this spiritual transformation on our own.
Yes, being on our knees for nearly ten minutes honored George Floyd. But it also served to portray how broken and helpless all of us are apart from some form of divine intervention within us and among us by our righteous Redeemer.
In the silence, whether most in the gathering knew it or not, we were kneeling before the Throne of Glory (where George Floyd, a Jesus follower, abides right now), dramatizing our need for a powerful, regenerating work in our innermost beings by the Lord of our salvation—for the sake of all the other George Floyds in our society and also for the healing of our nation as a whole.
Even in the midst of the current protests rising out of anger, woundedness, griefs, and fears, many Americans—believers and unbelievers alike—instinctively realize that without deeply reordered hearts, all our good resolves for moral and social renovation will fall flat no matter how many hundreds of thousands participate in countless marches.
Christians especially know, deep down, that striving for the flourishing of the Black community in America as well as for the reformation of our society from top to bottom–marks of God’s kingdom—can never be sustained apart from a widespread impact of the Gospel that radically overhauls our lives and loves, our principles and priorities, by the saving power of the reigning Christ.
There is only one solution for our crisis of the spirit. There is only one answer to the ultimate questions we face about race. There’s only one hope to match the energy, the vision, the appeals, and the soul-cries ascending from this daily, national uprising. It is the person and work of our victorious Lord Jesus Christ. Consider:
The revolution of our hearts, to deliver us from racism and anger and division—can spring only from the purposeful, penetrating, redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The kingdom promises of God that fulfill the deepest longings of our hearts for ourselves and our people can be entered into only through the great Promise Keeper, our Lord Jesus Christ.
The healing reconciliation among the races—especially Black and White—and the transforming regeneration of structural changes that so many are seeking will be found only through opening wide the gates to receive the active reign of our Lord Jesus Christ among us.
The righteousness, justice, and restoration of wholeness we are so desperate for, individually and as a nation, can truly begin only with full surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord of all.
The realization of the highest ideals of the “American experiment” for ALL of our citizens—but especially for the Black community— can still be ours. But it will come solely through the revelation and inbreaking of the righteous, reconciling, reforming, reviving work of our Lord Jesus Christ—and only as we embrace it daily and apply it comprehensively.
So, as needed, let’s keep on marching in our streets with our feet. But above all, let’s keep on marching to the Throne by our prayers—“marching” on our knees, as it were—seeking a fuller demonstration of the glory, greatness and goodness of God’s Son.
A “kairos” hour is upon us. We must be about the business of preparing the way of the Lord. We must get ready to welcome, enter into, and then spread, the coming Christ Awakening. That is the movement that offers the one true hope for America at this crossroads.
Most of all, it provides us our greatest opportunity to see Jesus highly exalted as Lord and Savior, reviving the Church and restoring the soul of our nation.
Today, Isaiah 40, which was brought to life in the ministry of John the Baptist, calls Christians everywhere to take similar actions in our generation on behalf of Christ, for the coming Christ Awakening and triumphant advances of his kingdom that lie just ahead of us.
Let these commands become your “marching orders,” as well, every day among the people where you live:
Thunder in the desert!
“Prepare for God’s arrival!
Make the road straight and smooth,
a highway fit for our God.
Fill in the valleys,
level off the hills,
smooth out the ruts,
clear out the rocks.
Then God’s bright glory will shine
and everyone will see it.
Yes. Just as God has said.”