Summary: Our assignment as followers of Jesus is to wait patiently for the Lord’s coming.
One of my favorite places for Mexican food in town in La Perla, Tapatia.
La Perla is a grocery store on Lander Ave that specializes in Mexican – and in the back of the store is the fast-food line where we go for burritos.
Now, I’m probably not doing myself a great favor by telling you this. And that’s because there is almost always a significant line back there – especially at night time after 7, when the burritos are half price. So it’s not always a fast food line.
But, you know what? I usually don’t mind waiting in line at La Perla because the people in line with me are always interesting. And it’s fun to watch the workers prepare the food – talk about hustle – they’re on par with the UPS delivery people. They really move back there behind the counter.
And then I know that I’m really going to enjoy my beef burrito with the extra non-Swedish very hot sauce. So I don’t mind waiting.
Consider, though, if the food was only so-so and the people behind the counter were more interested in socializing than making burritos? What if the people in line were smelly, loud, and obnoxious? It would
be a lot harder to wait patiently, wouldn’t it?
Our scripture from James points to the struggle that we all have with patience and waiting – especially in difficult circumstances. No, he’s not talking about waiting in the burrito line – but waiting in the line for Jesus to return.
And part of the problem with waiting for Jesus is that we’ve been waiting a long time -- our feet are getting tired of standing there. And we’re not seeing a whole lot of hurried activity behind that counter. On top of that, some of the people we’re stuck in line with are smelly, loud, and obnoxious.
So we struggle. Maybe I should just leave. I can come back later if I want to and the line may be shorter.
Are you catching my drift here?
It’s hard to wait when you get frustrated in line – even if you know the burrito is going to be good.
Or to take this to an even more absurd level of comparison – would you stay in line if a sniper started taking shots at people as they waited to order their Carne Asada?
People were taking shots at the church and some of the Christians were having trouble being patient in line – understandable so.
This is the concern that James has. So in 5:7 tells his readers: “Dear brothers and sisters, you must be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return.”
We already know from pervious chapters that James was writing to Christians who were going through trials testing their faith.
1:2 – “Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.”
1:12 – “God blesses the people who patiently endure testing.”
The early Christians were undergoing testing of some sort. Opposition? Persecution?
Unfortunately, not everyone was passing the test. Many were starting to crumble under the pressure. Some people were becoming territorial. There was prejudice against the poor, bickering, infighting -- extreme lack of patience.
I saw something last Saturday that I haven’t seen before in Turlock. There was construction on Main Street and the traffic was all snarled and the construction workers were not very good at letting people through the area.
There was a major gridlock and drivers began laying on their horns trying to get the construction people let them go – deja vu Chicago or Boston.
And after three cycles at a red light where I didn’t move an inch I was almost ready to join the anit-Teichert lynch mob. It was very frustrating. Stress doesn’t always bring out the best in everyone.
So James is reminding his readers – us – that OUR ASSIGNMENT AS FOLLOWERS OF JESUS IS TO WAIT PATIENTLY FOR THE LORD’S COMING. By the way this is the key point this morning.
Verse 7 again – “Dear brothers and sisters, you must be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who eagerly look for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They patiently wait for the precious harvest to ripen.”
James uses the Palestinian farmer as an illustration. The farmer waits for the early and late rains – early rain is October – softening the parched land up so the seed could be planted. And once the seed was planted it sat there dead -- all winter long.
Nothing happened. The wheat and barley didn’t grow until the spring rains in March or April started. All winter long the farmer sat there with nothing in the field.