This is the last in a series of messages on the healthy Christian, really the healthy human. Today it’s all about a current buzzword: passion. What is passion, what isn’t passion and how do we find true passion in life?
We’ve talked about many aspects, characteristics, of a healthy Christian, a healthy human, this Fall.
Reaching out beyond yourself and empowering others, having life giving structure, good close loving relationships and a focus on God’s Presence in your life and worship, for just a few.
We’re going to finish by talking about one last quality of a healthy life. Passion.
What is passion? It is an overwhelming spiritual/emotional response to something or someone, that produces action.
It’s what drives us. It underlies every life that makes a difference. If we think about it, we can remember people who made a difference. We often think of them as very passionate people. Dr. Martin Luther King. William Wilberforce. Susan B. Anthony.
When passion is not present there’s apathy and lack of life giving action.
Passion is a buzzword these days. I’m searching for my passion, following my passion. To the point that the idea of being full of passion has become just an idea. Instead of saying “I’m interested in whatever” I now say “I’m passionate about whatever.” And that makes it cool.
This is what passion is not: [Progressive Insurance commercial]
Just because you say you have passion doesn’t mean that you do. Passion is not an interest. Passion is not self serving. Passion is not an excuse for not doing what is tedious but necessary.
“I’ve turned down six job offers. Sure, my bills aren’t being paid and I’m living in Mom and Dad’s basement still, but those jobs weren’t my passion. I need to follow my passion.”
No, you need to get up and out and work.
I’m passionate about rescue dogs. But I neglect my kids and the house is unsafe to live in. No.
You need to be passionate about handling the weight of your responsibilities, not neglecting the most important ones.
2 Peter 3.14, 17-18 says:
14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless;
17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Looking forward to the New Heavens and the New Earth…be diligent. To act with speed; passion! Act with passion in your relationship with God, with personal holiness, being aware that falling from your passion for God is what gets you led away in the error of the wicked. Grow!
The prime evidence that you belong to God is a genuine love for Him that produces passion for Him that produces a devoted, growing life in Him.
Jesus was passionate, full of passion.
In John 2.13-17 we read:
13 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. 15 When He had made a whip of cords,
7. He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. 16 And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” 17 Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”
Zeal is another word for passion.
Notice: Jesus didn’t sin. But passion for God erupted in a holy action.
It wasn’t for Him. His fame, His notoriety.
His zeal expressed was concerned for genuine prayer in God’s House.
And Mark 11.17 says:
17 Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a‘den of thieves.’ ”
Genuine passion begins with prayer. Because genuine passion realizes that the center and focus of genuine passion is in the relationship you have with God, knowing you don’t have the ability to fulfill any of life’s purpose without going to the Giver of Life continually.
So the prime thermometer of a passionate life isn’t how your Facebook account is filled with references to some social justice issue. Or that you give to certain organizations. Or go to concerts to benefit some aspect of life or the world. Those aren’t bad.
The prime reading of passion in your life is found in your prayer life. If zeal for God eats you up, then you’ll be very focused on prayer. Further actions are on the other side of the door to your prayer closet.
Oh c’mon! You mean that I should pray all the time and not do anything about the conditions of life? From being devoted to emergency medicine to political activism? You mean that I shouldn’t work, just pray?
No. But passion finds a way to prioritize and practice real prayer first, then be hard working and responsible and courageous. What you do, the actions you take, will be an expression of God’s work in your prayer life.
So you know what concerns me most about our church? It’s our prayer life as a church. We have some great intercessors. But when we have a prayer initiative, like our monthly joint prayer meeting, I’m happy if 10% of the church comes out. So I’m grateful for that and them. But I’m 90% sure that we won’t see marvelous answers to prayer.
Will all of you participate in our annual 21 Days of prayer and fasting this January? Oh, I can’t, I have a condition. Well, if you can’t fast some food during that time, will you turn off the TV and pray? Or the internet? We’re going to start on January 7th this year. Do you have a zeal for God, a passion for Him? Your devotion to prayer then action will be the indicator.
Do you have passion?
It will be reflected in a passion, zeal and fervency for God Himself. The prime indicator of which is your prayer life. Is your soul full of “other transactions” but not a zeal for God?
Get some rope. And a proper stick. And start to radically drive them out of that holy place in your life. Overturn the tables, spill the money on the floor, and restore a radical devotion to Him in your own soul.
In Luke 14.26-27, Jesus said,
26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
Passion for God needs to be our priority because He is our priority. It can be measured in our devotion to prayer. And whatever else we do that we feel driven to do in our life will be individually designed, yes, will fit our gifts and calling, yes, but will find its fulfillment from our passion and zeal for God expressed in a Spirit filled prayer life.