This past month millions of television sets around the world were tuned into the 2016 Olympics. Louise and I only watched a few hours of the unending coverage, but it was obvious by the commentator’s words that many American athletes did a fantastic job. I often heard comments from the reporters that “America’s athletes were well prepared for their events and were not easily distracted”. Several of our older distance athletes seemed to overcome their age disadvantage by persevering through their pain.
The primary quality that drives perseverance is passion. For many of us it is easier to talk about passion than to find it, or having found it, to maintain our zeal. In a similar manner, a disciple of Christ must have a passion for his or her mission. Nothing witnesses to an un-churched person more than seeing a believer who is truly excited and passionate about his or her faith.
Gordon MacDonald, in his encouraging book, Restoring Your Spiritual Passion, helps us identify the things that rob us of our spiritual passion and our inner balance. Prior to giving us some very practical ideas on how to restore and/or maintain our spiritual passion, MacDonald states the following: “Passion – the kind that causes some to excel beyond anyone else – dulls one’s sense of fatigue, pain, and the need for pleasure or even well-being. Passion leads some to pay incredible prices to reach a goal of some sort… A passion is necessary in the performance of Christian faith”.
Paul spoke from a wellspring of passion when he wrote, “But one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:13-14).
Many of us experienced spiritual passion when we first received Christ into our hearts. Like the healed man at the gate of the temple of Jerusalem, we leaped for joy and couldn’t care less what anyone thought. Our infectious spirit and zeal might have even embarrassed those who have a more experienced and/or a prudish matter about sharing their faith.
It seems as time sets in, some over-institutionalize their faith and spend too much time identifying with folks who have lost the joy of their salvation. If we are not careful, we may end up like a defeated athlete and many one-dimensional Christians – boring and uncaring. Too often, we become inactive participants, mere spectators of life around us. Mature Christians do not preclude having a real passion for their faith, but rather learn to control or channel his or her emotions in a rational manner. Authentic believers utilize passion as an engine to generate passion for sharing their witness and to encourage others in their faith.
It is normal for a believer to occasionally find themselves lacking in spiritual passion. We live in a “harried, hurried, stress-filled environment” that tends to drain us of positive emotions. The busyness of our lifestyle absorbs what passion might exist. We find ourselves investing all our precious energy into events and programs of the “public world.” Meanwhile, our “private world” (the heart) starves for attention and encouragement. The more emphasis we place on activities, the less time we have for personal devotions, reflective listening, and building relationships. “Doing more FOR God may mean less time WITH God. Talking becomes an effective substitute for meditating or listening,” states MacDonald. A pastor I once knew said it this way, “Don’t get so busy in the Kingdom that you don’t have time for the King.”
If we are not careful we too can end up missing the spiritual gold and resulting blessings if our focus isn’t where it needs to be. Let’s pursue our faith with passion and pride. Let’s keep our focus on our mission and God’s plan for our lives. Together we will cross the finish line like the Apostle Paul did – receiving the upward prize.
I rarely utilize this platform for personal issues, but on September 6, my lovely wife, Louise, is undergoing a hip replacement. Please pray for the surgeons, anesthesiologist, and for a speedy recovery.
What are the things in your life that you are most passionate about?
If the world were to end tomorrow would it change your passion and approach about sharing the Gospel with the unsaved today?
Can you imagine a world where Holy Spirit filled Christians, like what was seen in the book of Acts, sought to share their testimonies with others?
This week pray for the opportunity to share your testimony with others.
So many people are longing for something positive in their life. If this has inspired you please pass this along
Jim Grassi, D. Min.