I am not by nature a passionate person. God didn’t make me to be the kind of person who gets easily very excited or very angry or very upset at anything; something to do with my northern European heritage I suppose. Maybe God has wired you differently to me. But recently I have been thinking, and praying, and preaching on the whole concept of being more passionate for the gospel.
Being passionate for the gospel is not the same as being a very emotional person. In our church we often have visitors from Latin America or southern Europe, and being emotional and passionate is the norm there instead of the exception. No, I am thinking about specifically being passionate about the gospel.
What makes you excited? What is it that gets you creative, that makes you happy, that fills your dreams for the future?
For most people in Perth, it is the next big thing, the next possession, the next house, the next car, the next holiday. Last week I took a bus down Hay Street in West Perth to see hundreds of people in line to pay close to a thousand dollars for the new iPhone. Their passion was obvious for all to see.
Are we any different as Christians? Do we only get excited by the next big thing? I admit that technology is a drawcard for me; if I need a new phone or a new computer or something I will excitedly compare all the specifications, look up the reviews, read blogs, and dream of how much better my life will be before I actually buy it.
I don’t think it is wrong to get excited and passionate about things; for some people, it is model trains; for others, travel; for others, the next sporting game they are playing in or watching on TV. But are we excited, are we passionate, for the gospel? Are we excited by the fact that Jesus died for us, that we have a great mission to glorify God, and that we have a wonderful inheritance in heaven waiting for us?
I have been thinking about this after preaching through Deuteronomy 1 when Moses recounted the first time the people of God reached the border of the promised land. They were told to trust God, having been given great reasons to trust Him, yet they did not take the risk and go and fight. And they are then held up in the New Testament as the great example of disobedience for not living by faith (see 1 Cor 10 for an example). In contrast, Caleb is held up as an example of wholeheartedly following God for others to follow.
To be passionate about Jesus and the gospel means taking some risks, living by faith and not just for the next big thing. It might mean risking your reputation by speaking to a work colleague about Jesus. It might mean intentionally living on less to support the work of church and mission. It might simply mean loving to read your Bible to find out about your gracious God.
Why are we so often not passionate about these things? Why do pastors find it so hard to get people to want to join Bible study groups and to pray with others? Why do so many see church as a chore and not a joy? Because it is easy for us to be passionate about the wrong things, and not passionate enough about the right things. We serve idols and not the true and living God.
Cultivate passion; don’t live a half-hearted life for God! Immerse yourself in the Word so you know whom you worship. Pray and consider God’s goodness to you instead of only poring over magazines. Spend time with others who also love Jesus and talk about what this means for you.
Serve God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. That has to include your emotions too! Even someone like me can be passionate about the right things! Don’t just ‘go through the motions’; mean what you do.