When I think of the early churches in the book of Acts, I think about committed believers who moved quickly and decisively, men and women of God who were given a mission and got the job done.
But did you know that after Jesus told His followers to go, He told them to wait?
“And, being assembled together with them, [Jesus] commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me” (v. 4).
Jesus’ message to the church in Jerusalem was that they had a job to do, but that they needed to wait on God to show them when and how it was to be accomplished. In other words, they needed to be patient.
There are a lot of extremes in today’s churches. Extreme patience is not usually one of them. In my experience, when something needs to be done, churches tend to respond in one of the following ways. We may come up with an idea and jump on it at full speed. Then again, we may sit around and talk the matter to death until either we feel comfortable with some decision or the opportunity passes altogether. (If neither of these describes your church, congratulations.)
Churches must be concerned not just with following God’s direction, but also with doing so in His time. We need patient churches and we must remember that patience is neither premature action nor paralysis. If we jump ahead of God then we are clearly not being patient. If we talk endlessly before acting we may feel we are being patient, but that is not true either. Waiting until we are satisfied with acting is not patient because we are still making decisions based on our timeline. True patience means that our timing preferences are irrelevant and His are everything.
We can have the best of intentions, we can move in the right directions, and we can try to do great things for God, but if we run ahead of or fall behind Him we will be outside of His will and lacking in His power. Without God at the center, even mankind’s best efforts are worthless.
“Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain” (Psalm 127:1, ).
The church in Jerusalem knew what they needed to do, and the temptation may have been there to get started, but they wisely waited, knowing the promise of God’s power that was to come.
“[…B]ut ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (v. 5).
Are you waiting on God’s timing and then moving when He tells you? Or are you trying to do things in your own time? If churches today could manage to move in God’s direction and His timing I believe He would start to use them in a more powerful way.