Opportunities as We Exit Social Isolation: Part 2
Opportunity to Practice Patience
This article is the second in a series of five articles addressing the opportunities that Christians will have as our country exits social isolation. You can read the first article here, which argued that our country’s gateway out of isolation will provide the unique chance for Christians to validate their true citizenship: heaven.
Another emerging opportunity for Christians during these next few weeks/months will be the prospect of practicing patience with one another. Like most issues in our country, people will strongly disagree on the timing, speed, and wisdom of reopening the public and restarting life in the “new normal.” And unfortunately, like most issues in our country, the disagreement will descend into angry attitudes, hurtful speech, and character assassination. That our culture will respond this way should be expected, but that Christians will follow suit regrettably might not be surprising.
Fill a room with people, and you have filled a room with a plethora of opinions. You have filled it with varying stages of Christian maturity, wisdom, and sanctification as well. This is why the Word of God emphasizes the importance and priority of patience in our interpersonal relationships. Twice Paul includes patience among the attitudes necessary to walk worthy of the Gospel (Eph 4:2; Col 1:9-11). This explains why true, Christian patience springs from the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22). He produces patience within a person—patience that exceeds normal human capacity.
Believers are called to patience. There are no “if, ands, or buts” about it. Colossians 3:12-13 reminds us that we are to “put on then . . . compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another.” Patiently bearing with one another ought to clothe the Christian. Heeding this call is not easy but still necessary. When addressing the Thessalonian problem in 1 Thessalonians 5:14, Paul reminded them to be “patient with them all.” The all included those who were idle—the lazy you might say, the very people we might struggle to show any patience towards.
Retreating from lockdown will not happen over night. Currently, my state (PA) has put forth a plan to gradually emerge. During this process, individuals we know will draw different conclusions concerning how quickly they will return to “normal” life. Inevitably, each will be tempted to think less of others who do not draw similar conclusions. At that moment, we will have a choice: will we be patient with those who disagree with us, or will we become irritated and upset?
More than we probably desire, we will have the chance to make greater strides in our patience towards others during the exiting process. We will be given moments to choose loving our brothers and sisters in Christ rather than hold a sense of superiority for our own clear thinking. “Love is patient” and “bears all things” (1 Cor 13: 4, 7). Easier read than done.