I am currently teaching through Galatians on the fruit of the Spirit.
In preparing teaching series, I ask myself: "Can I help through the Scriptures address the problems that KAC faces?"
This series was no different.
However, this series has a particularly targeted at me.
The most obvious example of this was when preaching about patience.
I am many things, but patient is not one of them.
Every day, my closest friends and family see me doing this: always on the go, dreaming of the future, and moving myself, my family, and church forward.
Our Culture Doesn't Produce Patient People
Our culture is characterized by anxious impatience.
The term "Hurry Sickness" was coined by Mayer Friedman, a cardiologist, to describe the physiological effects of Type A personalities. He noticed that these people suffer from an, "unremitting attempt to accomplish or achieve more and more things or participate in more and more events in less and less time."
The symptoms of hurry sickness are evidenced by my constant switching of grocery check out lines to reduce my wait time by 30 seconds.
Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Despite the fact that you might not be a classic type A personality, this is probably true for you. A culture on the move simply doesn't cultivate or celebrate patience.
Technology Doesn't Produce Patient People
In "The Way of the Modern World," Craig Gay asserts that our culture is defined by three words: control, secularity, and anxiety.
These three realities are interconnected. Here's how.
According to Gay, control is sought through technology. Technology is about production and efficiency. My Apple watch shows me how many steps I took each day and how many calories I burned. It is helpful, but its purpose is to get me moving so I can burn more calories and become more active.
I feel in control of my health with my Apple watch thanks to its efficiency and productivity.
The result is a secularity that marginalizes God's presence and activity in my life. As with the fitness watch example, when I believe I am in control, praying becomes less important.
Does God still have to play a role in my health if I walk 10 thousand steps a day and work up to my active calorie goal?
Control, through technology, leads to a secularity. The self is the center of the universe. God does not matter (nor exists).
If I am the sole being in the universe, then I must be in charge. Therefore, I am responsible for creating my happiest life. That best life must be created now.
As a species, human beings are not skilled at delayed gratification. Our goal is to live our happiest lives today.
Thus, impatience is amplified and inevitable.
Have you ever tried to learn a new skill, competency or activity? It takes a lot of time.
This winter, I took a ski lesson with a 76-year-old instructor. He had been skiing for as long as he could remember. At his age, he glided down the mountain with grace and precision.
Me? I looked as if I was going to severely hurt myself with a slight turn or bump. However, I became frustrated with myself for not catching on sooner. In another crash that nearly sent me to the hospital, my instructor heard me becoming frustrated with myself. He reminded me that he has been developing his skills for more than six decades!
The perspective was helpful.
Try learning how to do anything. It takes time.
The same is true for following Jesus. We want spiritual formation to be like a microwave. Throw in impatience and two minutes later patience emerges. It doesn't work that way.
I think of it as a slow crock pot approach. It takes two decades instead of two minutes.
Becoming patient in an impatient world
I acknowledge that God has gifted me and wired me uniquely. However, there is a shadow to this wiring. It is the shadow of restless impatience.
What am I doing to cultivate patience? I am doing two things:
1. Learning to walk at the speed of love
Japanese theologian Kosuke Koyama writes,
“God walks “slowly” because he is love. If he is not love he would have gone much faster. Love has its speed. It is an inner speed. It is a spiritual speed. It is a different kind of speed from the technological speed to which we are accustomed. It is “slow”, yet it is lord over all other speeds since it is the speed of love.”
The gospels describe the life of Jesus as walking at a certain speed - the speed of love. He is constantly interrupted by the religious elites, badgered by needy disciples and asked to care for marginalized outcasts. However, He still has time to send a caring word, a thoughtful response, and sometimes a healing hand.
Impatience does not and cannot cultivate love. I'm learning how to walk at a speed that love demands.
2. Asking for supernatural help
Galatians 5 does not endorse a humanist approach to personal growth or fulfillment. The catalog of these 9 virtues (including patience) actualizes not from human effort by rather Spirit empowerment.
"The fruit of the Spirit is..." I am taking God at His word on this. I seek to surrender myself daily to the Holy Spirit's activity.
Theologian John Stott, a respected thinker and follower of Jesus, prayed this prayer every morning, and I have adopted it in recent months.
Heavenly Father, I pray that this day I may live in your presence and please you more and more. Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you. Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness gentleness and self-control.
Are you a patient person? If so, how have you cultivated this in your life? Any thoughts or comments? Drop me a line by using the contact form below!
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