Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Expectant Life: Are You Really, Truly Patient?

I don't think I am. I think the Lord has done some good work in me, but I can see in myself a desire to vault myself out of my present station into the wonderful plans I have for myself. Even if I am patient in conversation and don't get mad when people go after, I'm not necessarily patient. I may have the appearance of patience, and may be patient to an extent, but the truly patient seem to me to be those who wait on God in both the smaller and the greater aspects of life.

Is this not a struggle for us? It is for me. It seems to me that we can fool ourselves into thinking we possess a certain spiritual fruit when we really don't. What do I mean? Well, when it comes to biblical texts, I think we're very quick to say that we obey them. "Husbands, love your wives? Sure, I love my wife. I've always loved her!" Meanwhile, one's wife feels alone and sad, because though one has a principial commitment to one's wife, one does not show this love in practical, tangible ways. This is startlingly common among Christians, I think. I know it certainly is in my life. I often think I've attained a certain level of maturity such that the preacher's application doesn't apply to me, but then the Lord reveals a whole massive outlying area in my heart that has not been ceded to the Spirit. I think we do this alot with waiting. We want so much to have what we do not possess, and so we thrash and fight against our station. When we behave in this way, we reveal that we don't really wait, and that we aren't truly patient.

The mature Christian is the one whose commitment to holiness transcends the principial level and extends into the practical level. Let me be very down-to-earth here, and repeat something I've said recently on this blog (not that anyone's noticed, but I'll repeat it to myself). We who blog as young men preparing for the ministry reveal that our commitment is only principial when we blog as if we have sixty years in the pastorate behind us, or as if we possess a doctorate in Wisdom Concerning All Things. We are not truly patient when we write in this way, for we are showing that we are not willing to wait for the experience that will authenticate such words and invest them with authority. Like the runner who starts a second early, we are cheating. We're getting ahead of ourselves. We need to slow down and ease off the polemics. I've come to the conviction in my own life that I ought to blog more along the style of an essay (as if my writing actually reaches the level of essay!), and not the level of polemic, or treatise, or, to put it more harshly, narcissistic, self-absorbed, self-crowned, blogging king. As a young blogger, I know all too well that it is easy to take this title for oneself without even realizing that one has done so.

We need to make sure that we do not do this. Satan roams the blogosphere just as he does the terrestrial land. He is present, and he wants young bloggers to speak beyond their wisdom, beyond their years, and create division and anger and hostility. He wants young men to speak too strongly, and old men to correct them in harshness and not in love, and the two sides to begin to snipe at one another in private, one calling the elders "authoritarian tradition-lovers," the other calling the youngsters "proud, narcissistic know-it-alls." The elders are wrong to correct us young bloggers too harshly, but we have made the first wrong. We have caused the problem by not speaking wisely. The primary blame lies with us. We must recognize our place and speak as befits our age. We should not antagonize our elders, or speak as if we are on their level, and know their lessons. We do not. God has given them their maturity, and He has not given it to us. We can disagree, and contend for our beliefs, but as young men, we must try very hard to do so charitably and wisely. We should speak softer than we might initially do. In these ways, we can begin to become truly patient, and show ourselves to possess not a fading, fictitious maturity, but one that lives and breathes and affects all that we do--and every blog post we write.


Blogger Aaron said...

Another good post. Thank you.

11:14 PM  
Blogger Jed said...

The advantage of intellectual and diary oriented blogs over didactic/protreptic oriented blogs: one doesn't have to worry about being too dogmatic in one's moral advice :)

On a more serious vein, St. Paul exhorts us to be content with where God has placed us and focus on serving Him in this time and place. I've come to enjoy my time as a Phd student; even though my status is undefined (not just a student but not yet a full-blown scholar), I've grown to appreciate the unique opportunities I have to mature intellectually and spiritually during this time of my life. I imagine the same is true for seminary students.

6:00 AM  

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