Friday, 4 May 2012


Patient people sometimes irritate us. In the midst of shared turmoil they remain unruffled. Even though others let them down, they still manage to keep going and get things done with those people. And when small-minded people mock them with backhanded sarcassism, they keep smiling and speak well of their detractors. No wonder they irritate us! But yet we admire patient people at the same time. Although we don't admit it, we'd all like to be more patient and not let the things of day-to-day life annoy us so much. And like most things we would all really like, we'd rather have the virtue of patience now, than have to wait for it.
Gal. 5:22 ¶ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness
It's a noble virtue. It is closely associated with true spirituality and genuine devotion to Christ (Rom. 8:25; 2Cor. 6:6; Eph. 4:2). When the Apostle prayed for the Colossians he prayed that they might enjoy and exhibit God's best gifts: joy, strength, endurance, might, and patience. It seems that any believer who is in a hurry to be done with prayer, Bible reading, fellowship, worship, or instruction, may be revealing their true spiritual condition as rather pitiful. But the believer who will pray through the night, study the Scriptures for an evening each week with others, sit at the bedside of a dying friend into the wee hours, or continue to be friends with the one they have witnessed to for years without so much as a hint of interest shown by them in the precious Gospel, is demonstrating, by their patience, a deep work of the Spirit in their lives. When the great Apostle wanted to boast a little of what God had done in him, he listed patience among with faith and love as one of the hallmarks of Christ's transformation of his soul. In a world gone blurry, Paul's injunction to us to be patient sounds like it belongs to a bygone era.
Col. 3:12 ¶ Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience
We live in a world where instant is worshiped. Coffee drinkers will understand me when I say this, some things are worth waiting for. When we meet together on a Sunday we could sing one or two songs, take up the offering, and hear a 15 minute sermonette and be done with in under an hour. This would say a lot about the soul of our congregation.

I spoke with a pastor from Hobart not that long ago who said that he had people walk out of church if he preached for more than 20 minutes! Their entire worship service now goes for under an hour. This means that the pastor has his congregation for 0.05% of the week to counteract what is for many of his congregation a week where 99.95% of it was either non-Christian or downright anti-Christian. Not surprisingly, he also lamented the parlour state of his congregation's spiritual life - questioning whether most of them were even saved or not!

In Africa, they worship together patiently. it's not uncommon for church services to go for 4 hours! Their patiencet also might say something about their spiritual hunger if not the depth of these brothers and sisters. Of course we are not saying that in order to produce spiritual depth we must have protracted church services. Rather, it seems that patience, not the length of our church services, might be the measure of what's in our heart.

If we happened to be First Century Christians, we would have become accustomed to our weekly church services meeting around an evening meal and the prayer, sharing, worshiping, and teaching going on into the night (hover your mouse over this reference to see an example of this from the New Testament Acts 20:7). It appears that these first Christians not only regarded their praying, singing, and study of the Word together as worship, but that their physical presence together with other believers for this purpose as worship as well. In other words, their patience became an act of worship.

Instant coffee. Drive-through fast-food. Microwaved 2-minute noodles. Sermonettes. Sound-bites. 20-20 cricket. SMS ... Anyone notice a trend? It seems that we are prizing "instant" and and despising patience. But if there's any doubt about this, consider what Credit Cards have done to the quaint virtue of days gone by: delayed gratification. If personal debt is a measure of Australia's patience, Australians are now the most impatient people on the planet since we have the highest levels of personal debt per capita of any nation in the world! Is there a link between our national hyper-impatience and how we view church, worship, reflection, Biblical meditation, preaching, fellowship and Christian instruction? If I had the time I would explore this further, but I know you're in a hurry to finish this article, so I'll conclude with the thought that maybe as we have become culturally hyper-impatient to do the painstaking work of methodically reading God's Word prayerfully we have missed the very thing which can empower us the most to be patient Christ-like disciples?
Ps. Andrew

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