Thursday, February 02, 2017

Please Be Patient With Me. God Is Not Through With Me Yet.


By:  Min. Angela Lee Price
The classic gospel song, "Please Be Patient With Me," by Albertina Walker goes 
Please be patient with me,
God is not through with me yet.
Please be patient with me,
God is not through with me yet.

When God gets through with me,
when God gets through with me,
I shall come forth,
I shall come forth like pure gold.

Black History Month reminds us that Christians come in different colors, and shades; in different shapes and sizes, and come from different socio-economic backgrounds.  This can make it difficult for us, as Rodney King once said, to all get along. We have come this far by faith, through hush harbors and the invisible church, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights era, worshipping God in rich black church traditions. 

If we are to effectively stand against injustice in society and speak truth to powers in the world today, however, we will need to learn to get along with brothers and sisters in the body of Christ who may not look like us, think like us, nor share our cultural perspectives.  It is time to put aside pettiness within our own houses of worship.  We are facing foes that require our full and undivided attention.  For some of us to do God's will and receive what God has for us will require that we grow up, and cultivate the fruit of patience (Galatians 5:22).  Your Bible might say, "longsuffering," but the  word, "longsuffering" isn't used very much in everyday, contemporary 21st century language. It is often translated "patience" in newer versions of the Bible. 


In his letter to the Galatians, the apostle Paul  addressed people in the church who were not acting very godly. The church in Galatia had some serious problems.  First, there were false teachers called Judiazers who were trying to sway the people back to a works-based religion.  Secondly, there were people in the church who did not like each other.  Paul wrote in Galatians 5:15, “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” There were people in the church who were engaged in back biting and talking about one another. They might not have done this to each others’ faces. More likely they did behind one another’s backs. The O’Jays once sang, “Smiling in your face; all the time they want to take your place…oh, backstabbers!” Paul wrote: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:12-14).
God is patient with us. If He wasn’t patient with us, none of us would literally have a prayer. The Bible tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Because God loves us and is patient with us, He forgives us - even though we have sinned. As a matter of fact, the Bible states that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

Because Christ is patient, we have to be patient with one another. There are going to be people in the church and in your family and in your life who rub you the wrong way, who get under your skin, and on your last nerve; who only speak to you when they have something negative to say, or who only speak to you when they want you to do something for them.  Be patient.  The Bible says we can't profess to love God whom we've never seen if we don't love our brothers and sisters in Christ whom we see every day.
  
Now the problem is patience DOESN’T come easily for most of us.  Galatians says that true patience comes by allowing the Spirit of God  to control us.  Galatians 5:25 tells us “… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, PATIENCE… If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22 & 25). Don't fight fire with fire. Fight fire with love.  Fight fire with prayer. Kill them with kindness.  You may have to put up with them longer than you want.  Be patient.  Know that these tests and trials only come to make you strong. Remember, God is not through with them, nor you yet.
The black and white picture  is of students peacefully protesting in front of Blue Boar Cafeteria in Louisville in 1961.  It was one of the pictures on exhibit at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage on January 31st-February 2, 2014 at the Celebrating the Legacy of Black Louisville" event.  It is just one of thousands examples of African Americans exhibiting the fruit of patience with non-violent civil disobedience during the Civil Rights Movement.  I was able to eat in Blue Boar in the 1980s and '90s, and we as African Americans can sit at restaurant counters today because of the patience and longsuffering of our forefathers in changing America for the better.  And likewise, there will be some obstacles that we will have to overcome for future generations.

The Bible says “But we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulations worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope" (Romans 5:3-4).
“For you have need of patience, that after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:36). 
Patience is something we all have need of.  There is no getting around it.  It is the Spirit-given quality that helps us fit everyone together into a unified church that glorifies God.  Please be patient with me.  God is not through with me yet.

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