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Patient Restlessness

(From an online article on a sermon preached in the Fuller Theological Seminary Chapel on January 5, 2011, on Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer,” by Dr. Richard Mouw, President of Fuller Theological Seminary…)

Mouw recalled that when he first became president of Fuller, he said in his inaugural address that he was “taking up the leadership of a restless seminary,” one that was founded by restless people who wanted change, reform, and renewal—and today, it is a seminary filled with students who are “eager to get out there and deal with the big problems in the world.” However, Fuller Seminary must be a place of “patient restlessness,” said Mouw, or of restless patience. In this way, we are not passive but active in our studies and our preparation for leadership in the larger world.

As we learn to cultivate longsuffering as one of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22), we may imitate God’s patience, a characteristic that is displayed in his work of redemption. “In our rebellion, our unbelief, our refusal to do his will,” said Mouw, “God is unsurpassingly patient with each one of us.”

As we move forward in our intellectual discipline, he said, “each of us is called to do what we can, where God places us, with the time and resources God has given us.” While we cannot be the Messiah to the world, we have plenty to do as we keep looking for him and pointing others toward him. “We’ve got steady work to do,” said Mouw, “that calls us to a restless patience in serving the cause of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.”