by Charlie Ridenour, Pastor, Crossroads Bible Church
I’m not a patient person, and I especially don’t like waiting.
I’m the kind of guy who will drive 15 minutes out of the way to avoid 5 minutes of traffic. Hey, at least I’m moving somewhere. Not surprisingly, almost all advertisements annoy me. It’s a version of hitting traffic while trying to consume media. I’m the kind of television watcher who constantly changes the channel to avoid a 15 second commercial.
When we think of patience, we think of traffic and commercials and often forget the conversation extends to the people around us. The problem is relational patience is the most challenging, but the most needed today.
Each week, as I look out at my church I see a church comprised of differences. Differences are difficult because they require us to be patient with one another. It’s why Paul spends a good bit of time in his writings discussing unity and body life (Romans 12 and 14, I Corinthians 12, Philippians 2). It’s natural to try and make everyone think, act, walk, and talk like me, and in doing so create a world where I don’t need to be patient.
The problem is, if we all believe, think, or even act the same, we lose the beauty difference brings into our world. Differences don’t have to threaten truth. Truth still exists as we see it in the scriptures and is worth pursing, but that’s another conversation. My fear is that in an increasingly impatient society, we forget that our differences are an expression of an immensely creative God who uses diversity to reveal His majesty.
If I’m completely honest, my idea of relational patience mostly centers around my perspective. It’s the time it takes for others to see my point of view or the time it takes for them to move from their perspective to mine. I’m patient if others move towards me.
The problem is, that’s not real patience. It’s the difference between allowing difference and actually celebrating it. If I believe difference reveals the majesty of God, I want to do more than simply allow it in my life; I want to celebrate when it’s encountered.
I’m beginning to realize practicing patience is an expression of celebrating difference. I still hate traffic (and most commercials) but am trying to learn the simply joy of practicing patience with the people around me — it helps me see more of God in the world.
The Pastor’s Place features columns written by a different area church leader each month.Call 940-728-8284 for more information.