Monday, December 8, 2014

God's Patience



The Christian Year begins with the season of Advent.  Advent literally means “anticipation.”  It is an awareness of God’s actions in the past, in the present, and in the future.  While we wait for Christmas and the birth of Jesus, we also anticipate Christ’s second coming at the end of time.  Our Lord’s coming again always stands in the background of our yearly Advent anticipation.

We are often impatient people. It is important to understand that God’s timing is different than ours.  There are two words for time in the New Testament:  Chronos and Kairos.  Chronos is where we get our English word “chronological.”  This is time measured by the clock.  This is the way in which much of our lives are governed.  The other term for time, Kairos, is seasonal time.  It is not determined by the clock, but is event-oriented. 

God is not time-oriented in the sense that we are; that is, God is not ruled and controlled by the clock.  God is actually event-oriented which is why God’s understanding of time is that a thousand years are like a day and a day like a thousand years (2 Peter 3:8-15).  In others words, God does not measure time like we do.  When the Bible says that Christ is coming soon, that means there are no redemptive events left in the course of history except the Day of the Lord, the return of Jesus to judge the entire world.

I admit that I am a clock-oriented guy.  I also admit that my wife and girls are not.  Since this is our reality as a family, I end up waiting on them – a lot!  I have spent countless chronological hours of my life anticipating their readiness to go somewhere.  I used to get frustrated and impatient because I thought they should be clock-oriented like me.  But, over the years, I have learned to accept this reality.  Now I take the time of waiting and read.  I have actually read a lot of books over the years through my waiting.

What we need to get a hold of is that God has all the time in the world, and he is not frustrated about it.  It is us that get antsy and impatient because we think that God has to operate on our time schedule.  But what looks like tardiness to us is really something else.  God seems slow in keeping his promises because of his mercy. 

In the face of so much that is not right with the world we might wonder why God is not just stepping in and taking care of all the evil and unjust situations on this earth.  The truth is:  God is patiently waiting for all kinds of people to come to the point of repentance.  God is waiting for that lost soul to make his/her way to himself.

But the repentance that God is looking for is not just for other people outside the church; it is for Christians, as well.  God is waiting for us, too.  What should we be doing in the meantime while we wait for Christ’s Advent?  We ought to be living holy and godly lives as we look forward to Christ’s coming and speed its coming.

When I worked a factory assembly line, the reality of the situation was that the assembly line is only as effective as its slowest worker.  One person could determine the outcome of getting the product out the door in a timely fashion, or not.  God is not a factory manager, but the principle is still the same:  the church is often only as effective as its most mediocre member.  In other words, God has chosen to use us to accomplish his purposes.  If we do not participate in those purposes or procrastinate, the next event on God’s agenda (the Lord’s return) may well be slowed.  God has all the time in the world, and he is waiting. 

God is gracious.  He is not going to kick and prod you like an earthly boss.  He is not going to bully us or strike us with lightning when we disobey by failing to do his will.  God does not operate like us.  If we sin or disobey, he is patient, wanting us to come to him to receive mercy.  He is waiting for us to avail ourselves of his help to live holy and godly lives.  Our Lord’s patience means deliverance from all that disconnects us from Jesus so that we might rightly attach ourselves to Christ.


There is no better season to mend fences and deal with all that divides and angers.  The Lord is coming.  Let us be ready by living grace-filled lives reflecting our status as God’s people.

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