Disciples must be passionate!
Another requirement, I believe, is passion. Think about it: the word apathy means “without passion.” What do you think about the term, “apathetic Christian”? Isn’t that an oxymoron?
One day, Jesus was tested by a group of Pharisees. They asked Jesus about the greatest commandment in the Scriptures. Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22.34-40).
Loving God with your whole being – that’s what passion is! Loving others as you love yourself. Only passionate people can do that. Passion is required for fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ, the Passionate One!
Models of Passion
Let’s look at a few people from Scripture who modeled a passionate life.
David was a passionate person. He was described as “a man after God’s own heart.” During one celebration (bringing the ark of the covenant home to Jerusalem), the Scripture says, “David danced before the LORD with all his might” (2 Samuel 6.14). David was a passionate person!
And the Psalms DAvid wrote are filled with passion, too, things like …
- “To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.” (Psalm 25.1)
- “I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak his praises.” (Psalm 34.1)
- “O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better to me than life itself; how I praise you!” (Psalm 63.1-3)
- “With all my heart I praise the LORD, and with all that I am I praise his holy name! With all my heart I praise the LORD! I will never forget how kind he has been.” (Psalm 103.1-2)
Jeremiah was another passionate lover of God. Jeremiah’s ministry was to preach judgment in order to turn God’s people from imminent disaster. That’s a tough call! It takes a passionate person to fulfill that call.
At one of Jeremiah’s low points, he prays a passionate prayer …
O LORD, you persuaded me, and I allowed myself to be persuaded. You are stronger than I am, and you overpowered me. Now I am mocked by everyone in the city. Whenever I speak, the words come out in a violent outburst. “Violence and destruction!” I shout. So these messages from the LORD have made me a household joke. And I can’t stop! If I say I’ll never mention the LORD or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am weary of holding it in! (Jeremiah 20.7-9)
Passionate people have fire in their bones. It’s God’s fire. “Our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12.29)
And who was more passionate than Jesus?
Read John 2.13-17. Jesus clears the Temple and the disciples later remembered Psalm 69.9, “Passion for God’s house burns within me.” Jesus was a man of great passion!
Jesus was the most passionate person who ever lived. Is it any wonder we call Jesus’ suffering and death the “passion of Christ”? Jesus’ death is the ultimate picture of love and total sacrifice for others. That’s passion!
But all passionate people struggle, at times, to keep the passion alive. If your passion gage is running low today, let me suggest the following …
:: Repent of apathy!
We all, no doubt, have been apathetic toward someone or something at some point in our life. And, if we’re honest, we’re probably pretty apathetic toward something right now, something that we should be giving our whole heart to. Maybe you’re not loving your spouse or your family as you need to. Or, perhaps you’re not giving God all of your heart! Maybe you’re holding something back. If so, I invite you to join me in repenting of apathy!
:: Experience God’s love!
Since we can only give what we have received, to give love, we have to have received love. Think of yourself as an empty cup. To be able to pour anything out, your cup must first be filled. And the more we pour out, the more we must receive. And the more receive, the more we have to give!
:: Love God and others with passion!
Love is a decision, a choice we make. We have to guard against waiting to feel passionate about God to love God. The emotions of love usually follow the act of loving God and others. So, start today to love God and others with more and more of your heart.
:: Discover and live out your unique passion!
Of course, we’re all wired differently, and we all have different passions in life. I am passionate about some things that you may not be, and you are passionate about some things that I’m not. But you need to discover what you are passionate about. What fuels your engine? What excites you? What brings you energy?
How full is your passion tank?
I can’t think of anything much worse than being apathetic, complacent, lukewarm. In fact, Jesus had a harsh word for a church that was lukewarm. Jesus, through the Apostle John, says, “you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, I will spit you out of my mouth!”
But these people in this church did not know they were lukewarm. They thought they had everything they needed. Jesus challenged them, “Be diligent and turn from your indifference.”
O God, we are empty clay jars and we need you to fill us once again. Forgive us for our apathy, our lack of passion. Fill us with your love. And help us to love you in return. Help us to love you with our whole being – heart, mind, soul, and strength – everything that’s in us! Help us to love each other as brothers and sisters. And help us to love spiritually empty people, especially those we know and interact with locally. Empower us to be your passionate followers! Amen.