Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Unruffled Patience

A few years back we sought to expand our street ministry beyond simply doing the work of evangelism by holding a Bible study in a local coffee shop. Many weeks we enjoyed studying through the Gospel of John as we sat outside, drinking coffee or tea. Our study grew more exciting when those sitting nearby became engaged by what they were overhearing. Once we had as many as eleven people gathered around (these tables sat only sat four people per table)! That particular day, one fellow stayed after and poured out his heart, expressing grief over his sexual immorality and dissatisfaction of working as a bouncer at a local gay bar (located, incidentally, about a block down the street from this very coffee shop).

One day, as we were just getting our study started, a personal familiar to me came up the sidewalk—a woman who had once been in my Adult Bible study class about two years previously. I remember her distinctly because as we studied the Gospel of Mark verse by verse, she suddenly stood up and noisily declared she could not stay in the study because she had never read the passage we were studying before and she left!  She was convicted by the scripture and she literally ran away! Now, here she was coming into the coffee shop and had to pass right through the middle of our Bible study. Politely, I greeted her and invited her to join us! She smiled, greeted me back, but declined the invitation. She stayed inside and never came out as long as we were there with our Bible study.

The following week, one of the coffee shop patrons (he always sat nearby just within earshot, but never officially joined us) informed me that the owner was having second thoughts about our Bible study. It seems that someone registered a complaint . . .

John Calvin explained his main purpose for writing what we now know as “The Institutes of the Christian Religion” as the preparation “of candidates for the sacred office, for the study of the sacred volume.” His desire was for the advancement of God’s kingdom and the public good of the Church. How was he received?

Calvin appends his Epistle to the Reader in the second edition of his “Institutes” with a response to the course of criticism he received from church officials and others: “[T]he devil, with all his crew, is mistaken if he imagines that, by assailing me with vile falsehoods, he can either cool my zeal, or diminish my exertions. I trust that God, in his infinite goodness, will enable me to persevere with unruffled patience in the course of his holy vocation.” (Geneva, 1st August, 1559)

When she was a teenager, my wife would come home from church to be met with yelling and berating and cursing—talk about coming down from the mountain!  Yet, she stood on the promises of God and held her ground in the face of adversity. You may be at a place in your life where you are trying to get it back together again, reading your Bible and praying. Satan and all his crew do not like this, and they will do all they can to quench your fire.

Over time, our Bible study ended, but not without first getting to know some people, including a few Wiccans. We remain unruffled.

We still go out and point people to the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. We do this because God is still infinitely good and so we remain unruffled.

They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.’ But I prayed, ‘Now strengthen my hands.’” – Nehemiah 6:9

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