(This is an overview of the 2-28-10 message at Denton Christian Church. Huge props to Matt Proctor, from whom I borrowed some structure and content.)
This month, we continued hanging out in the book of Luke, specifically looking at some of Jesus’ personal encounters with those around Him. Sunday, we looked at the story in Luke 9:37-45.
Being patient often feels like death.
We live in a microwave culture with a serious lack of patience. (Lucado says we are “the only culture in the world with a mountain called rush-more.” yep, corny!) But we are called to be a people who show the evidence (fruit) that God’s Spirit lives in us. And part of that evidence is that we live a life of patience!
There are TWO ways patience in the Bible is used:
- Dealing with DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES.
- Dealing with DIFFICULT PEOPLE. (This is where we will focus today)
In the midst of our sinful, messed-upness, God could just unleash His furious wrath. It is quite scary. Check out Deuteronomy 32 if you don’t believe me. BUT, God is patient. He has, as Tozer said, “put a SAFETY LOCK on His wrath, and a HAIR TRIGGER on His mercy.”
God does not fly off the handle, is not impulsive and doesn’t just “go off” on us. He is “the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in love”. (Exodus 34:6)
GOD’S PATIENCE DEFINED: BUILDING A PAUSE INTO HIS REACTION.
Jesus did this well. He was patient with all the difficult people that surrounded Him. This is seen clearly in Luke 9:37-45. (go read it. don’t worry, I’ll wait……back? good.)
Jesus was patient with INCONVENIENT people– The Father
Jesus was just coming down from the transfiguration. He was heading out with His disciples for some R & R, and yet this dad comes and interrupts this plan! This wasn’t the first or the last time that Jesus was interrupted in ministry. In fact, Jesus was interrupted so much that it seems that “if it weren’t for interruptions, Jesus wouldn’t have had much of a ministry.” (can’t remember who said that! help?)
Examples– Paralytic being dropped through the roof in the middle of a sermon! Blind beggars at Damascus! Jarius’ daughter and the woman with internal bleeding.
When interruptions happened, when disruptions came, Jesus didn’t brush these inconvenient people aside or blow them off or lecture them about how He had more important things to do!
When we come to those moments in our life, moments when someone is interupting our day-planner schedule, getting us off of our to-do list, we need to:
BUILD A PAUSE INTO OUR REACTION! AND….die.
Die to our to-do list.
Die to our agenda.
Die to our idea of what’s most important.
Being patient often feels like death. Who knows? Perhaps God has set-up a Divine appointment for you. Don’t miss it.
Jesus was patient with DISAPPOINTING people –The Disciples
The Disciples should have been further along than they were. They should have been able to drive out a simple demon. Jesus had already empowered them to. (See Luke 9:1) But they couldn’t. AND right after this story, they start arguing over who was gonna be ruler over who. Over who was gonna be the head honcho in Jesus’ kingdom. (Luke 9:46ff) Then, right after that, these hot-heads wanted to call down fire from heaven on some people for not wanting to hear from Jesus! (Luke 9:51-56) These disciples should have been further along, more mature, and more able, BUT THEY WEREN’T. AND Jesus didn’t go off on them, Jesus didn’t fire them or threaten them.
We will often encounter people who don’t live up to our expectations. People who disappoint us. It might be our SPOUSE, when we move past the ‘honeymoon’ stage. It might be the CHURCH, when we realize that it isn’t full of perfectly sanctified people who have got it all figured out!
When we come to that moment of disillusionment, when the rose-colored glasses come off, when reality strikes and expectations are crushed, in that moment, we need to:
BUILD A PAUSE INTO OUR REACTION….and die.
Die to our false ideas of “love”.
Die to our false notions and judgments of who we think people ‘ought’ to be.
Being patient often feels like death.
Jesus was patient with HOSTILE people–The Teachers of the Law
Over in Mark’s account of this story, we see the Teachers of the Law (read: religio-nuts of that day) stirring up and arguing with the crowd. This was nothing new. Everywhere Jesus went, the current religious powers of the day constantly opposed Him, trying to stir up the crowds against Him and His message. But Jesus doesn’t unload His fury on them. He doesn’t fly off the handle. He doesn’t fire back.
And as followers of Jesus we often find people who are actively hostile to us. 2 Timothy 3:12 says that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”. We will face opposition. We will face people who would like nothing better than to see us fail.
At that moment, when it seems like the world is against you, when it seems like the only defense is offensive, when you are being dragged down by these attacks, in that moment,
BUILD A PAUSE INTO YOUR REACTION….and die.
die to you own sense of dignity
die to your own sense of security
die to your own need to defend yourself
and instead, offer radical love, grace and forgiveness. Put a safety lock on your wrath and a hair trigger on your mercy.
Why? Because that is exactly what Jesus did. Jesus was patient with us.
Just think of Jesus at the cross. He faced hostility like few of us can imagine. He was condemned to a death He didn’t deserve and had the power to stop. He listened as the people shouted for the release of a murderer instead of Him. In that moment He built a pause into His reaction and chose grace. “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
He faced something far worse than the hostility of the people. Jesus in that moment faced the hostility and wrath of God. Not because He deserved it or had sinned, but because He voluntarily took the sins of humanity on Himself. And so the safety lock came off, and God’s wrath was poured out on His own Son, instead of us. And in that moment, Jesus BUILT A PAUSE INTO HIS REACTION….and died.
It’s Christ’s patience with us that calls us to be patient with others. He was so slow to anger that He died before He got there. Will that be you? Sometimes being patient feels like death.