We make our tools, and then our tools make us.
For example, the invention of the automobile has spread our lives out. We no longer need to work, worship, or shop where we live. Our lives are built around the mobility afforded to us by our vehicles—we couldn’t get by without them.
This isn’t a judgment about cars, it’s a statement of fact. I, for one, wouldn’t be married to Hanna if it weren’t for cars. And I certainly wouldn’t be a pastor at a church in Fishers, Indiana. So yes, we make our tools, but then our tools make us.
This is also true of our digital technology, and especially the internet. We’ve learned to value speed and efficiency. I know that I personally get frustrated if a website doesn’t load in a matter of seconds. And if it takes too long, I’ll leave the website and look elsewhere. If something is slow, then something is wrong. This is life in the digital age: we want to do bigger things and we want to do them faster.
Our modern tendency towards speed and efficiency can warp how we approach our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Jesus teaches in terms of farms and gardens, crops and animals. Yes—obviously—cars and the internet weren’t exactly available for Jesus to use as illustrations. But it is meaningful nonetheless that the Son of God entered into creation and spoke in this way. Farming can’t be rushed. Crops and animals take time. They require patience and perseverance, diligence and discipline. Our digital age and the tools that have shaped it, on the other hand, do nothing to strengthen these virtues. Instead, they foster impatience and distraction. It is important that we understand how we’ve already been shaped when we come to the feet of Jesus. And it’s important to see that the pace of discipleship is not digital, but agricultural.
Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
A first-century Christian in Galatia understood that it usually takes a long time and a lot of hard work to see results. They saw this everyday of their lives. What about a twenty-first-century Christian in Hamilton County? We can order sushi from our couches and with a few taps have it delivered to our doors in under thirty minutes.
When slow is so closely associated with broke, how do we account for the slowness of discipleship? How can we be sure that the work we’re doing is good if we have to wait for the results?
We must measure ourselves against the standard of God’s word. Our work is good because God says it is good and not because it produces results we might like to see right away. We must tend to ourselves—our souls—like a farmer or gardener, not like a websurfer.
Have you committed yourself to regular prayer and Bible reading, but still find yourself struggling with the same ol’ sins and temptations? Don’t grow weary, in due season you will reap if you don’t give up.
Have you made a point to participate in worship (whether in person or online) these past few weeks, even though you dislike masks or you’re tired or your kids are unruly or you’d rather be doing anything else? Has your attitude not improved? Don’t grow weary of doing good, for in due season you will reap if you don’t give up.
Have you tried to foster a relationship with your neighbors and gotten nowhere? Don’t grow weary, in due season you will reap if you don’t give up.
That good thing you’re doing; the thing that hasn’t provided you any kind of return yet, don’t give up on doing that. Don’t give up on doing good, for your Father who is in heaven sees (Matthew 6:4, 18). The good that you do does not escape his notice. The harvest is coming.
If you persevere, you will reap intimacy with God that has grown over seasons and seasons, through droughts and floods and beautiful sunny days. You will have learned to trust him in every station. That his word sustains us. That his heart beats for his children. That he is sovereign in the work of salvation. That he is patient in our wandering and merciful in our failings. These are not things we can learn at the click of a button—at the speed of digital. Instead, we grow closer to God through plodding. There are no shortcuts on the path of discipleship. The way of Jesus is slow and steady.