Patience is a Virtue…

11 Nov

I would be very surprised if there hasn’t been a point where those of you who have done much witnessing have become discouraged.

I know when I was in college, sometimes I’d go out to witness and it felt like, what am I doing? I’d go up to say hi and people would be like, no I don’t want to be a Christian.

You’ve probably all had the experience of praying for some one for a long time, looking for an opportunity to talk to them about the Lord, finally having the chance, sharing with them as best as you can, and having them look at you and you can just see in their eyes, they are like, what are you talking about?

It can be discouraging. I think some of us have become so discouraged about sharing the gospel with unbelievers in fact, that we quite honestly don’t do it very often anymore.

We just don’t see the point.

We’ve tried, we’ve gone out there, we’ve put ourselves on the line, we’ve stretched ourselves way past our comfort zone, we’ve shared some of what we know about Jesus Christ, only to be rejected time and time again.

We want to see results, and when we don’t…at least not the way we like, it can get pretty discouraging.

We might even start to ask ourselves, what in the world is God doing?

I mean, if this is His gospel and He’s got all this power, why when we share the gospel, does we sometimes feel so weak? Shouldn’t we be seeing more? More power? More something?

That’s a problem.

And it’s not like we’re the first ones to struggle with it.

Take the people in Jesus’ day for example.

Oh they wouldn’t have put it in quite the same terms we would have, but their problem with Jesus would have been pretty much just the same.

You see they were reading their Old Testaments and they were looking forward to this thing called the kingdom. Now, I don’t know what you know about the kingdom, but you start studying the Old Testament and you discover it’s kind of a central theme. It’s like foundational to the people of God’s hope.

The prophets are case in point.

You know you couldn’t really emphasize the sovereignty of God more than the Old Testament prophets did, but that didn’t make them apathetic to the evil they saw going on all around them. You can’t find me a single Old Testament prophet, at least not one who was godly, who looked at what was going on in his world, threw up his hands and said, oh well, I guess that’s the way things are, after all God is king.

Nope, just the opposite.

They went around pointing out people’s sins, calling on people to repent, and what’s more they started talking about this day in the future where God was going to break through and establish His rule in a way that was evident to absolutely everyone.

They didn’t ignore the fact that there was a whole lot of injustice going on, no they wept about that, but they didn’t give up hope because they knew there was this day coming when God was going to set up His own righteous king.

They didn’t pretend like it wasn’t a sad, confusing thing for all these people who claimed to know God to be like living in absolute disobedience to His revealed will, no they mourned over that, but they pressed on because they knew the day was coming where people were going to experience a new relationship with Him, where His law would be written on their hearts and they would walk in obedience to Him.

They were all about the sovereignty of God don’t get me wrong, we might say they understood and believed and taught the invisible sovereignty of God, they knew very well as they looked at their crazy world, God was working His plan behind the scenes; but at the same time there was this other big old truth that was really important to them, and that was the fact that the day was coming when they would see God’s invisible sovereignty, in a clear, tangible hands on kind of way.

That’s what the Bible is talking about when it talks about the kingdom, the kingdom of God. And that’s why the Jewish people were so excited when Jesus came and announced the kingdom had arrived.

They had been reading prophets like Isaiah and they had been looking forward to the day when the Messiah would come and “…the haughtiness of man shall be humbled and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low, and the Lord alone will be exalted…”

They had been reading prophets like Ezekiel and they had been looking forward to the day when the Messiah would come and God would “give them a new heart, and a new spirit He would put within them. And when God would remove the heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.”

But perhaps most of all they had been reading prophets like Jeremiah and they had been looking forward to the day when the Messiah would come and God would raise up a “righteous Branch, who would reign as king and deal wisely and execute justice and righteousness in the land.” A king who would “save Judah and cause Israel to dwell securely.”

They had been reading their Bibles and they had been looking forward to this day, which we’ll call the coming of the kingdom, which is why they were like really excited when Jesus came and announced the kingdom had arrived…they had all kinds of expectations as to what that meant and which is why they were like really confused when Jesus was immediately rejected.

That’s the point of Mark 4. Jesus is explaining if you are going to understand the way God is working in this world, you’ve got to come to Him and like, really listen. There’s something you need to understand about the kingdom… about the way God is bringing all this about.

The Kingdom is coming in power, you just need to be patient.

Check out parables four and five.

God is accomplishing His work in this world even if we as people don’t fully understand how.

That’s what Jesus is getting in verses 26-28,

The farmer sows a seed, just because he doesn’t see results right away doesn’t mean he’s not going to have a harvest. And you know what just because he doesn’t know how it all works, doesn’t mean he isn’t going to enjoy the fruits of his labor. He just needs to sow, trust, and wait.

And the same is true for us. It’s really important for us to understand that God is not up in heaven, wondering what to do. We may not understand how He is accomplishing His will in this world, but that doesn’t change the fact that He is. We may not see it all clearly now, but the vital thing for us, is to trust God and be patient. There is, Jesus says, going to be a harvest.

What’s more, we have to be very careful not to judge what things are going to be like by the way they are now, the end result is going to be much greater than the beginning.

That’s what Jesus is getting at in verses 30-32.

The kingdom of God, it’s kind of like, a mustard seed.

A mustard seed is really small. You can barely see it. It doesn’t look like much. But you know what happens when a mustard grows? Actually, it becomes kind of a menace. It’s one of those plants that just spreads everywhere. And you know, the way God is working in this world, is kind of like that. It might not look like much right now. It might seem kind of small. But it won’t always be that way. We just have to be patient.

I’m convinced that’s the fourth key component to a proper approach to responding to questions about the state of the world.

We need to be careful as we look at the problems going on in this world that we don’t make the mistake of minimizing God’s role. On the other hand, I don’t want us to make the opposite mistake and that is of distorting God’s role.

Instead, like Jesus let’s acknowledge that there are problems, let’s not deny that some things are to understand, let’s challenge people that they need to turn to Jesus if they are going to understand what God’s doing, and help them understand that God is going to work everything that seems like a mess right now out perfectly, our job is to trust Him and be patient.

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