You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
— James 5:8
Have you heard the story about the father who took his children on a week-long fishing trip? The first day of the trip was rainy, so they stayed in their cabin. The second day was the same as the first. Soon the children began to fight. On the third day the father said, “We are going fishing.”
“But, Dad,” the children cried, “it’s still raining.”
“That’s right,” the father replied, “but if we don’t go fishing, we will just spend our time fighting.” The moral of this story is that when the church is not “fishing” (Matthew 4:19), it is prone to start fighting.
James calls us to wait patiently for the Lord’s return. But this patient waiting is not without a purpose. As Peter teaches, God is not slow in returning but is being patient, “not wanting anyone to perish” (2 Peter 3:9). And we are called to participate in calling people to faith. Jesus calls his followers to take the good news of salvation to all peoples and nations (Matthew 28:18-20). As Paul put it, we are like ambassadors, imploring people to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Already in the days of James, Peter, and Paul, some believers were losing patience waiting for the return of Christ. The situation is certainly no better today. But when we are active participants in God’s mission, each day of delaying his return is another day of opportunity.
Lord Jesus, we are eager for your return, but we also ask that in this time of delay many others will come to know and love you. Amen.