We live in a fast food culture. We want it easy. We want it hot. We want it now. Whether you’re working for a non-profit or a big corporation, the mantra is likely the same: What have you produced this week, this month, this quarter? This culture demands instant results that can be measured in simple charts and graphs. Show me the money.
In this environment, it’s easy to lose sight of what is most important. It becomes almost second nature to measure success in terms of short-term profitability rather than enduring values. Under the pressure to produce, we limit ourselves to the question: What sells? Yet the most authentic part of us yearns to ask: How can we make our lives, our community, our world more beautiful?
What if we paid attention to this persistent whisper of hope and courage? What if we prioritized the truth we feel in our bones over the short-term results that our culture demands of us?
This requires immense courage. It’s the kind of slow-roasted boldness that is taken in small sips, spread out over the course of months and years. This is what Cornel West calls revolutionary patience, which requires keeping your integrity even when the rest of the world seems to want to sell everything and everybody, or buy everything and everybody.
Such courage demands faith. The author of Hebrews says that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. The practice of revolutionary patience requires us to have faith that a more just and beautiful world is possible, that this is God’s intention for us. We must put this faith into concrete action, even when the work seems hopeless. Revolutionary patience means trusting in the word we have received, even when the logic of the quarterly report tells us that we are failures and nobodies.
A patient revolutionary is willing to become nothing in the eyes of the world for the sake of truth. Despite what we’ve seen in the movies, real heroes aren’t entitled to instant gratification, success, or happy endings. Just the unconditional love of God, and the strength to carry on.
Hollywood’s heroes get neat gadgets, sleek costumes, and the approval of the world. But that’s not the story that Jesus gives us. When we volunteer as revolutionaries of the kingdom, we’re signing up for a life that looks like defeat to those whose worldview is shaped by our short-sighted culture.
Jesus has many admirers, but few followers. Far too many of us have decided to believe in Christ without really understanding where his path leads. Can we drink the cup that he drinks, or be baptized with his baptism? Before glibly replying, we are able, we must know that his cup is shame in the eyes of the world, and his baptism is death. That’s the life of a gospel revolutionary.
This is why endurance and long-term perspective are so vital. If we fail to see our lives in light of the ultimate triumph of the kingdom, we are bound to give into despair. Our world is not friendly to the message of peace and the work of justice. This system we live in will distract us if able, purchase us if possible, and destroy us if necessary. Violent inequality perpetuates itself however it must; it does not hesitate to spill the blood of the prophets.
Yet despite the risks, there are always those precious few who will choose truth over comfort, risky love over safe indifference. Are you ready to act on the promptings of love and truth you feel in your heart? Is it time to walk in the revolutionary patience of Jesus, even if it means the cross?