Gentler, Quieter, More Patient: Brian Zahnd Leaves Immature Faith Behind

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 6 of Brian Zahnd’s brand new memoir Water To Wine. Brian has been gracious enough to let me share portions from each chapter every week for the next couple months. This chapter dives into a particular part of Brian’s transition, inspired by St. Francis – from immature impatience to a gentler, quieter faith:

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I had cut my teeth on the eighteenth and nineteenth-century revivalists, but after three decades of that kind of Christianity, I came to realize that contemporary revivalism fails to engage the wider culture in any meaningful way and in the end it just wears people out. What is called “revival” today is mostly spectacle and religious entertainment playing upon the emotions of guilt, desire, and anger. I was more interested in a quieter and, ultimately more revolutionary, approach to living the Christian life.

The gentle St. Francis offered me a better model than the raging revivalist.

During the Jesus Movement of the 1970’s, we were all convinced that Jesus would return within a decade, two at most. We couldn’t imagine a twenty-first century dawning prior to the second coming of Christ. Looking back on those days I realize that our eschatology wasn’t based in any sound reading of Scripture, but in childish impatience.

Everything had to happen in our lifetime. We could not be content to be faithful in our generation and hand the task over to the next generation. No, we had to be the “omega generation.” We were impatient. Of course, impatience is the hallmark of immaturity. It’s the droning query from children in the backseat – “Are we there yet?”

Patience is the heart of wisdom. Impatience is the essence of foolishness. Stanley Hauerwas has correctly observed that “war is impatience.” 

When we are impatient – whining from the backseat, “Are we there yet?” – we inevitably become frustrated and quarrelsome. When we demand “results” on our own timetable, we will most likely find ourselves out of step with the patient pace of historic Christianity.

Impatient saints don’t exist.

And the kingdom of Christ has more in common with an Italian three-hour lunch than with an American drive-through window.


the-christian-calendar-advent-brBrian Zahnd is the founder and lead pastor of Word of Life Church, a non-denominational church in St. Joseph, Missouri. He is also the author of several books, including A Farewell To Mars and Beauty Will Save the World, and the brand new memoir Water To Wine. Follow him on Facebook & Twitter.