Colson Center Special Publication | Proverbs: Patience and Faithfulness
The Colson Center for Christian Worldview is producing weekly reflections through Lent. The reflections are produced in weekly chapters of a special book we are producing.
Each week, we are emailing you a chapter of our book that highlights readings in Proverbs, our National Time of Guided Prayer initiative, and the tradition of contemplation that occurs during Lent.
The chapters will be bound in a special Colson Center publication titled Proverbs: Patience and Faithfulness. The published book will be available for order later this spring.
Right now, we have to do a lot of recalibration. We have to recalibrate who we are in the culture and what it means to ground ourselves in the Truth.
- John Stonestreet
The Patient Persistence in the Early Church
The world will tell us that patience is a vice when it comes to mending the flaws of our social order, but that only shows how little the world knows and how much it is in need of this very patience they despise. It was with patient persistence that the Early Church worked and loved and died, all in the face of seemingly unending cultural and political hostility. It was with an abiding endurance that later Christians faced the upheavals of civilizational collapse and barbarian invasions, all in the hope that the works which they began would yield their fruit in season. It was with a longsuffering insistence that the moral reformers like William Wilberforce called on the reigning powers of the day to upend the desecration of human dignity of slavery.
Our social moment cries out that there is nothing good worth waiting for. The Scriptures reply that it is only through patience that good can be secured. As Andy Crouch has emphasized, the great works of God in this world have not been characterized so much by sudden revolutionary acts but through works of fermentation, cultivation, and patience. When speaking of our personal lives or our ongoing quest to renew all things, the call of God in our day draws us along the road paved with patience.
In a time of uncertainty, what can we know?
Isn’t it strange that in a day like ours when so much seems up in the air and unstable that people sound even more keen to be sure of what they know? Politicians sound increasingly shrill and strident, always seeking our loyalty and our votes. Self proclaimed authorities call out to us on the streets of social media, assuring us that they alone have the solutions to the contagions which stalk the land. Activists work tirelessly to reshape our understanding of gender and sexuality, confident that they have unique access to undiluted knowledge.
Why Would God Call Us to Fear
Most of us tend to view fear as something to be avoided at all costs. We associate it with the negative things of life, those aspects of our human existence that drag us down, making us less able to be the sort of people we wish to be. Fear is the obstacle. It is the chain that binds, one of the fundamental elements in nearly all of our stories that must be overcome. Remember Franklin D. Roosevelt’s iconic words to the nation in the grip of the Great Depression: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” We may tell our children to face their fears, but it is always in the context of facing them down, of conquering them, of putting them behind us so that we may move forward.
Our culture today has such a peculiar relationship to work. On the one hand, we live as though finding that one particular job and nothing else will bring us a sense of meaning and purpose in life. On the other hand, we very often act as though work is a necessary evil, simply the way to pay our bills so that we might escape to our true lives of leisure.
There is an enduring misconception when it comes to Christianity’s view of sex. If you were to ask the “average” person you meet what the Bible has to say about physical love, there is a good chance the answer would boil down to “God hates sex.” Mind you, this is the sort of thing that can only reasonably be held by someone who has not read the Scriptures all that carefully. God is the inventor of the practice, after all.
We come at last to wisdom. It may seem strange to have gone through all these past chapters only now to come to the concept most commonly associated with the Book of Proverbs. In a manner of speaking, all the other topics discussed so far are simply ways in which this greater issue of wisdom works itself out in our lives. After all, what is the call to hard work, the call to patient endurance, the call to disciplined chastity but appeals to engage each of these aspects of life through wisdom?