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Are You Patient Enough for the Revolution?

Are You Patient Enough for the Revolution?

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?

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  • charlesburchfield

    Yeah I’m ready now. I was not when I started this funky journey w/ the lord 40+years ago. I was in denial about my addictive personality & how I used religion to cover my many character flaws. Addicts always look for the easier softer way. I thot the fire insurance, a good degree from a Christian college, a tenured professorship & tithiing 10% were enuf of what l needed to control a good outcome for myself & loved ones. The possibility of dying for my faith was remote in the extreme back then!

  • Greg Elliott

    Thank you, Micah. I needed this. I think about this A LOT. I truly believe that this world does not want to hear the teachings of Jesus….and most of the time, neither does the church or its leaders. Instead, this world conspires against the gospel and attempts to reduce it to rubble…much the way the empire turned the radical teachings of Jesus into a tool for oppression, dominance, and colonialism…but thankfully, the Truth lives on, despite those who claim it…

    My thought is this: we cannot do this work alone…but rather “Where two or more are gathered…” I WANT to do this. I feel like I NEED to do this. But I don’t know how to create the kind of faith, community, and relationships necessary to do this. I often find myself wondering, what am I waiting for? Why am I still afraid? “Have ye no faith?” The truth is, I am still fearful. I still hold on to what the world is giving me–validation, a sense of predictability and safety, and a means of “survival.”

    But it’s true. Following Jesus is not safe, predictable, or beneficial to the “I”/ego. I find myself feeling more like Thomas and Peter than I would like to admit. But as I continue to grow my relationship with God and Jesus, the fear is diminishing, and I am learning how to make room for that at first “disturbs me” and then “amazes me.” Praise God. Thank you, Micah.

    • Wow, Greg. What you say very much speaks to my condition! I need this, too. I wonder how we can work together and support one another.

      • Greg Elliott

        I would love to explore that with you, Micah. I need it.

  • Duncan Pugh

    It seems to me that there is more than just a remnant of people who would agree with you, but it is an extremely scattered remnant and I’m not so sure how face to face communities can form and flourish with all the disinformation and bad feeling that revolves around ‘Christianity’. One might say that Christianity’s main failing is that as an institution it has become the exact opposite of what Jesus envisaged … starting with St. Paul? (Nietzsche said that not me!)

    • I’ve often wondered what the equivalent to Benedict’s monastic communities might be in our time and place, as people become increasingly hungry for a space of refuge from the insatiable burdens imposed by Empire.

      • Duncan Pugh

        Well I don’t know but if they manage to stick around for 1000 years they’d probably become incredibly rich and powerful until someone saw them as ripe for the plucking? Unity through autonomy? Do you have a scriptural reference to support that? My new leather bonded 1599 Geneva Bible with the notes of the Reformers has arrived and I’m ready to put it to use!

  • Hofman

    Patience is not my concern at this moment.
    The people in the post reformed world are so evil, that any revolution will only make things worse. As happened 2 centuries ago in France and 1 century ago in Russia.
    Yes, the prophets, or whistle blowers, get murdered.
    But if people would not be evil, the liars, rapists and thieves would get murdered.

    The people don’t want to repent, hate God and His prophets with a passion.
    They’s rather suck the dick of the pope as they do in they’re white smoke black smoke democracy every 4 years, than listen to a prophet.

    I only can be worried, I know how hell looks like.
    But will prevent any revolution by such evil people as I see around me.

    Yes, we are run by pedophiles, but the folks that go vote, they always vote for a pedophile voluntarily, and call a pedophile when they call police, or accept such a papist system.

    Oliver Cromwell was poisoned by Democrats.