I ask you to think for a moment on this question: What is your passion? What are you passionate about? This very question is one that would often be misunderstood, one that would very often only be considered from an illicit sexual standpoint. This is an injustice to a very strong and thought provoking word. The word can be defined in many ways and the most common is that which we will examine in this article. Webster states that passion "usually implies a strong emotion that has an overpowering or compelling effect."
With this in mind let us again ask ourselves what has this strong effect in our lives, our thoughts, our direction in life? Is it God? Well it should be; nothing should change us more than the influence of God in our lives. How many of us can see the impact of God in the lives of those around us? We need to feel this impact so strongly in ourselves, in our day to day living that there is no doubt or question when we proclaim that our God and his word is our passion.
In Philippians 3:8 Paul writes, "I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ." The words of the apostle here are most applicable to our train of thought; he had changed what meant the most to him, thereby he changed his passion. He was no longer driven by that which once had been his motivation, in fact he had laid that down, left it behind, and viewed it as worthless and even as trash which he had no desire or use for.
This concept of changing our passion or finding a new motivation is one that is developed throughout the ministry of Christ and continued in each of the books of the new covenant. Peter clearly informs us that we must change in 1 Peter 2:1-2, "Therefore laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby." We recognize that the evil works listed by Peter all have tremendous motivational powers. It is not unusual at all to see someone whose passion is that of envy, and that envy takes over all direction and guidance of his life until he ends up warped and twisted shells of the person that he once was. The apostle tells us to change what is directing us; in essence he says, "Turn from passions of evil to passions of righteousness."
We often refer to patriots or martyrs as men of passion. Why? Because their conviction is so strong that they are willing to die for the cause. They demonstrate a high level of visibility concerning what they believe in, what they stand for. This is viewed as an honorable trait, and we need to develop this same degree of intensity in order to be pleasing to, and effective for our Savior and God. I guess the whole point here comes down to one rather simple question, how much does God mean to you? As easy a question that this is to ask, it's much more difficult to honestly answer. Are we passionate about our service to Christ?
One of the most dramatic illustrations of passionate service and dedication to God is found in the death of the Judge over Israel, the man of God Eli. This is recorded in 1 Samuel 4:12-18; for reasons of space I shall set the context for you. The children of Israel had just lost a major battle to the Philistines, the army had fled, many people had been killed and the ark of God had been stoken by the enemy. Eli, who was 98, heard all of this from a young man who had escaped. Not only did this young man bear this news of great defeat and destruction, he also informed Eli that two of his own sons had died in this battle. Let us notice what Eli's reaction was to all this. "Now it happened, when he made mention of the ark of God, that Eli fell off the seat backward by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years" (1 Sam. 4:18). What news had the most impact on Eli? Find that and we find his passion. It wasn't the fact that the army had fled, or that many had died. Yes, these hurt him; his own children had been killed and he would see them no more. What hit this man of God the hardest was that the ark of God had been taken by an ungodly people. He cared about all of these other things, but he cared most about God. God was his passion.
Eli is not the only example of a passionate servant that we find in the Scriptures. Time after time we see men and women who were willing to die for, and most importantly, live for their Father and God. The question that needs to be addressed at this time is where did their godly zeal and passion come from? The writer of the Hebrews letter after discussing many of these impassioned men says, "all these obtained a good testimony through faith." All spiritual direction and guidance, all righteous motivation, all godly passion must be grounded in faith. After all how can one truly be devoted and given to that which does not have his total trust and conviction? With faith comes a degree of passion and, as that faith grows, passion grows with it.
Our passion for God is predicated by our level of knowledge. We have all heard of a vicious circle, some set of unfortunate events that demand all the strength that only God could supply. What made Jesus rise up and walk to a quiet place to talk to God? The same thing that will make you get up earlier, or stay up later, or watch one less TV program so that you may pray to your Heavenly Father, a true passion for God.
Intensity and depth, love and devotion, strength and discipline, these are the elements that form the passion for God that all of us must have in order to please God, to serve him, and to bring others to him. Passion is such a misunderstood and yet powerful word; does it dwell in your heart as far as your God and Savior is concerned?