How many of you have ever felt like you went to church and the pastor’s words went in one ear and out the other. “Oh, last week’s sermon was wonderful…. Too bad I can’t remember what it was….” I’ve done that far too often. So, I’ve decided to start taking notes each Sabbath so that I can share the highlights from the sermon with you all. I can’t promise I’ll share these highlights every week, but I will take notes every week. This way I’ll be able to glean more from the sermon, remember it better, and also be able to share what I’ve learned.
So, what in the world was our Sabbath speaker doing talking about the importance of impatience? No, that was not a typo. I meant to say IMpatience and so did the speaker! Here are the highlights from his sermon, and by the end I hope you come to realize the importance of impatience just as much as I did.
Our speaker told how he was planning to move to Indiana from New York. When he and his wife told their little daughter (who was probably about 3 or 4 years old) about the upcoming move, she became very excited. You see, her grandma and grandpa lived in Indiana, and so she knew that Indiana was great place to be. The next day when the speaker and his wife had to go to town for something. Their daughter seemed very excited to go along. However, when they arrived at the store, she began to cry. When they asked her what was wrong, she replied, “This isn’t Indiana.” They then realized that she had thought they were moving to Indiana right away. They tried to explain to her that it would be a few weeks before they moved. Still, every time the speaker and his wife got in the car and drove somewhere, their little girl would ask, “Are we going to Indiana?”, “Is today the day we go to Indiana?” She couldn’t wait for moving day!
The early disciples experienced something similar. In Acts 1:6-8 we see them asking Jesus, “Lord, is now the time that you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” Then in verses 9-11 we see Christ having to explain to them once again that they were confused about His mission. Then He left them and returned to heaven. This was not what they were expecting. Afterward they got together in Jerusalem. They did a lot of soul-searching. They kept remembering what the two angels said them about Jesus soon return, and began to see Jesus’ words to them in a new light. They remembered His promise to come again, and His statements that His kingdom was not of this world, and they finally began to understand His plan.
Their next question, naturally, was When will He return? Then they remembered His parable about the master who went away whose servants did not know when he would return, and they too had to be ready at all times, just like those servants. Christ’s immanent coming was at the forefront of their minds. They were not thinking about getting ready, they were thinking about being ready. They didn’t think about this world. They were ready at every moment to leave this world.
Matthew 18:2-3 shows us that there are a lot of traits of little children that are also traits of converted Christians. Especially impatience. Wait, isn’t patience is a fruit of the Spirit? Yes, but sometimes patience is not helpful. Do you really want your ambulance driver to be patient? Point made.
If you tell a child, “We’re going to the park today,” you’d better be heading out the door on your way to the park when you say it. Otherwise you’re going to hear, “When are we going?”, “Are we going to the park now?” every five minutes. We adults get tired of children constantly asking, “When are we going….” God, on the other hand, never tires of His children asking, “When are You coming?” “When are we going to heaven?” He wants His children to have no time for the world. He wants us to be impatient for His coming.
We don’t have time for delays. We don’t have time to get ready. “Oh, when I’m older and done with [fill in the blank], then I’ll get my life together.” No! We have to be ready. The early Christians were perpetually ready for Jesus to come. They also knew that they had to continue in this life until He did. We can’t just sell our houses and sit around waiting for Him to appear. 2 Peter 3:14 informs us what we need to be doing until He does come: “And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things [read vs. 8-11] to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight.”
Our speaker’s little girl finally stopped asking about moving to Indiana. You can only ask “When…” and get the answer of “In a few weeks” so many times before you give up asking. The same thing happened to the early church. They became complacent. They got caught up in the cares of this world. This is where Christ wanted them to not be like little children. He wanted them to grow up. You see, there’s a difference between child-likeness and childishness. It is child-like faith that helps us to get excited about Jesus’ coming and to be ready each day. Childishness causes us to eventually forget and fall into complacency. Paul says, “When I grew up, I put away childish things” (1 Cor. 13:11). We also need to be mature Christians. We need to follow the counsel in Mark 13:33 to stay on guard at all times.
Moving day came, and our speaker woke his daughter up to tell her, “Today is the day!” She rubbed her eyes and said, matter-of-factly, “No, in a couple weeks.”
2 Peter 3:3-4. It’s sad that there are those in our churches who say the same things as the scoffers mentioned in these verses. How many times have you heard, “Yes, Jesus will come, but probably not in my lifetime.” What about you? What do you think about Jesus’ soon coming? Are you laying up your treasure in heaven? Do you believe so strongly in the immanent return of Christ that it affects everything you do? If we don’t, we will become complacent. What we need is impatience in regard to the second coming.
Jesus is looking for an impatient people. Those who will look for His soon coming without scoffing. Those who can say–and really mean it–Maranatha!!