Playing the Long Game
The other day I got an email from Amazon telling me they are now able put select electronics and food in my hands within two hours of ordering it. Pretty impressive, I guess. Not sure how much it’s needed, though, since there are two different Kroger stores within walking distance of my apartment. What would be really impressive is if Amazon could send toilet paper via drone to my bathroom window when I’ve run out…but that’s probably a difficult service to market test.
We live in a country of immediacy. We all know this and it’s constantly bemoaned or praised by sources begging us to slow down and smell the flowers or pushing us to speed up and smell the new iPhone. I’m not ready to blame technology. After all, it’s the market’s answer to the felt need for speed, which is really just the ever-present impatience of humanity.
We are defined by our immediate impulses, and innovation has allowed us to fulfill all of them almost instantly: fast food, fast phones, fast computers, fast relationships, and — for some ungodly reason — eight Fast & Furious movies. We’re even willing to eat frozen, gravy-drowned gelatin which has a flavor only vaguely reminiscent of a generic “food” taste because it only takes one minute to heat in the microwave.
Every day we gladly sacrifice quality and lasting results for speed. This pace of innovation and lifestyle is one thing that tends to make discipleship increasingly foreign and difficult to us. This isn’t a new consideration for this blog, and Pastor Beau has already provided some excellent biblical references for this topic.
In a Pauline fashion, I think it worth reminding us of the necessity of the quality of perseverance in discipleship (2 Peter 1:12–15). People are not formulaic. They don’t have a maturity button. We all need constant reminders of what we already know, sometimes because we already know it.
One of the things we already know is that people are a time-consuming, long-term investment. Investing our lives in people means being “ready to share…not only the Gospel of God but also our own selves” (2 Thessalonians 2:6). Self doesn’t have a time table. And if we treat discipleship with the same self-justifying urgency that we do everything else, then we will be perennially frustrated when it doesn’t pan out within our expected time limits.
Making disciples is agreeing to take part in the long game, being willing to stick with the people we’ve chosen to pour ourselves out for, even when they disappoint us or don’t grow as fast as we think they should. Pressing on in those situations is an act of faith, one that believes God is the one who wills and works and that He’s doing so even when we can’t see it.
Stay faithful. Discipleship will be worth it in the end. Reaping what we sow can function as a warning, but it’s also a promise to keep us from growing weary of doing good (Galatians 6:6–10). God is working. Do you believe that enough to stick with discipleship?
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