I consider myself to be a passionate person. When I believe in something, or someone, I tend to get behind it/them 100%. But, admittedly, in spite of my best intentions, I have observed that unfettered zeal can be difficult to sustain. For some people, when they lose their passion for something or someone, the natural response is to get out. Move on to other things. End the relationship. Find something, or someone, capable for reigniting the passion.
Christians don’t have that option. The God who initiated our relationship with Him, preserves that relationship (John 6:39, 40). I am so thankful for the fact that I cannot escape God’s merciful grasp. But, here’s the trouble–or challenge–as I see it. The God who sovereignly preserves my relationship with Him, does not force me to respond lovingly to Him. And because growth in godliness requires choice; because my passion for Christ is connected to my will, I sometimes find my passion lacking. The commitment remains. The relationship remains. But the fire, the intensity, I have in following the Lord sometimes vacillates.
Now, imagine this on a grander scale. Dozens, maybe hundreds, of Christians gathered together on a Sunday morning because of their existing relationship with, and commitment to, Jesus Christ. But, in this instance, it is a gathering of people whose passion for Christ has waned. The results can be devastating. Those who had yet to make the same commitment to Christ (often our youth) become disenchanted. Visitors, failing to detect any zeal, move on to warmer pastures–or worse, they altogether give up their search for an authentic Christian community.
I wish I could tell you that such gatherings are rare. They’re not. The New Testament sends enough warning signals to convince me that keeping our passion for Christ is neither easy nor automatic. Check out how the apostle John has to address the churches in his day (see the 2nd and 3rd chapters of Revelation)–he challenges the Christians at Ephesus writing, “you have left your first love” (Revelation 2:4). In other words, they had lost their fire, their zeal, for Christ.
Along similar lines, the apostle Paul takes a proactive approach with the Colossians, “just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him” (Colossians 2:6). The idea here is that we begin well with Christ. We begin our Christian life with an overwhelming sense of joy, gratitude, zeal, and hope and Paul wants us to maintain that. Paul wants us to continue in the manner we began. Paul wants us to do whatever it takes to keep our fire for Christ lit.
A passion-less church–not only will that not attract the world, but it will repel the world. Some would say it already has. Well, today is a new day. If you have lost a bit of your passion, now is the time to reclaim it.
God stands nearby ready to engage us, ready to heal us, and ready to inflame our passions for Him and His purposes. Everything we need is within our reach.
This was my burden this morning as I delivered my Sunday message at St. Giles Kingsway. I framed my main point as a math equation:
PASSION for Christ + POWER from Christ = effective kingdom service
If that’s something that interests you, I invite you to have a listen.