The more I study history the more I realize that so called “greatness” is not so great. One example that I have been studying is the Great Awakening of the 18th Century. I have always assumed that it was a time of great revivals where the Spirit of God moved in the hearts of men. There definitely is evidence of this happening in the writings of Jonathan Edwards but not on the scale that most history books present it as. The truth is that many of the so called revivals resulted in emotional outbursts that went into the night and fizzled out several weeks later. Preachers would exchange pulpits to try to keep the flame burning but many converts resorted back to their old ways. The last word I would use to describe the Great Awakening is “perseverance.” Great theatrical itinerant preachers like George Whitefield were experts on attracting large crowds and creating a stir but their efforts rarely resulted in lifetime commitments from their converts.
The Great Awakening would be better defined as theatrical, divisive, and short lived. Theatrical because of the off the cuff emotional preaching that could stir the masses for but a short season. Divisive because of the church splits that came from the critical spirit of Whitefield and other itinerant preachers towards the more moderate preachers. Short lived because of the falling away of many of the so called converts of the revivals. Instead of the Great Awakening, it might be better to call it the Great Divide, Great Emotion, or Great Falling Away. But don’t get me wrong, I do believe that the Spirit of God was moving in the hearts of men during the time but just not on the scale that is often portrayed by most history books. I would never call it great for its many so called converts. A great life in the eyes of God is one that perseveres to the end. The Christian life is a “life-time” commitment, not a short lived emotional outburst of artificial change. God promises to create in his children a new heart through Christ to help them persevere and become more sanctified as they draw closer to the finish line.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
~ Heb 12:1-2 ~