Technology is the high god of our age. You know who someone’s god is by what he sacrifices. Money, hours of one’s life, the joy of other human faces and voices are all sacrificed to technology, and the sacrifices we make change us in turn. We become what our phones have made of us: impatient consumers.
Consumption is an attitude we lament in parishioners and potential converts. They demand things from us that we are either unwilling or unable to give them. They come only to take and not to give back. They appear and disappear as the whim suits them, as if the church were a Halloween or Christmas store you stop by once a year for something really specific.
But consumption is our way, too, consuming ways and means to bring in more people to our churches. Maybe that’s why you’re here, as if we were experts on how Christ’s Word can spread best in your part of the vineyard. Consumers are impatient. It is their way. They cannot be otherwise because their lives are defined by their needs, and we as pastors, preachers, evangelists have needs the same as anyone else.
Impatience cannot live next-door to hope. Hope waits, is patient, hope bears the strain and stress of what today has brought because it believes tomorrow can be better. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. (James 5:7). Hope and patience can receive because hope and patience are under no illusion that tomorrow depends on their doing, their needs, their demands, whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow (James 4:14).
Patience is possible because the flourishing of the Gospel and the growth of Christ’s Church are His gift for every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights…of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth (James 1:17, 18). Everything we have, life and life abundantly in Christ, that we believe in him at all, is all his gift. We have nothing we have not received, and our future will be no different than our past. James counsels patience precisely because the future is in Christ’s hands, You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand (James 5:8). You, who are just getting a church start off the ground, be patient. You, who don’t know how to go about this whole thing, be patient. You, who are struggling to hold a congregation together, be patient.
Put away your phone and whatever you’re reading this on. Put away your habits of instant satisfaction and pressing demands. Put away everything that is impatient and suspicious, cramped and distorted in your soul. Put on patience and hope in Christ, and using the oldest and simplest of tools, the Word of God, sharper than any two-edged sword, now calmly and steadily and joyfully reap the harvest the Lord has prepared!