Wednesday, March 28, 2007

PASSION

People are passionate about lots of things: food, sports, art, music, relationships, even God. But what really is "passion?" I discovered the following definitions of passion online at wordnet.
  • strong feeling or emotion
  • heat: the trait of being intensely emotional
  • rage: something that is desired intensely; "his rage for fame destroyed him"
  • mania: an irrational but irresistible motive for a belief or action
  • a feeling of strong sexual desire
  • love: any object of warm affection or devotion; "the theater was her first love"; "he has a passion for cock fighting";
  • the suffering of Jesus at the crucifixion
I find it interesting that amidst all these emotions is listed the great event of Christ's sacrificial death. His death proved forth His passion. But what was His passion? Was it the journey to the cross? Was it to be obedient to the Father? Was it to see sin atoned for and death defeated? Yes, I believe all of these were His passion, but maybe even more His passion was you and me. The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews says that it for the "joy set before Him (that He) endured the cross." (Hebrews 12:2) Just to think that we are part of that of which the Lord is passionate. We are the objects of His love, it was for us that He enter this world, rode humbly into the City of Jerusalem, endured the shame of beatings and the Cross and rose triumphant on that Resurrection morning! Talk about passion!

But, then let's talk about passion. How is mine when it comes to Jesus Christ? Am I more passionate about trying a new meal seen on the food channel, or about the box scores of my favorite team, or about the latest movie to hit the screen? Sadly, I don't know if I really understand passion that well...but I need to...I desire it!

This Passion Week, my prayer is that each of us will understand in fuller measure the passion that the Lord of all creation has for us, and in that understand exhibit more passion for Him. For he is worthy of all our passion!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Pastor,
The word passion is an interesting word. In our culture we most often hear or see it used in the context of "strong emotion"...such as a passionate kiss, a crime of passion, having a strong passion for reading or music.... it was rarely used in Evangelical circles with regard to Christ's sufferings.....until Mel Gibson titled his film " The Passion of Christ"...that seemed to direct our thinking to another level.

I agree with you 100% that I think Christ's passion was to fulfill the plan of His Father....to redeem HIS alienated creation. Christ was "in" on the plan from the beginning. He knew HE was the unblemished sacrificial Lamb...the required blood sacrifice. He wanted SO much to provide that bridge back to a HOLY God...whereby sinful mankind could once again have fellowship with Him. Redemption WAS His passion!!

I personally don't think that Christ's intense suffering stemmed from the horrendous PHYSICAL pain as much as the emotional pain caused by the rejection of those He was seeking to redeem...and then the ultimate rejection by God the Father who had to turn HIS HOLY back on His own beloved son...unable to look upon the sin Christ bore in His own body. The rejection and lonliness HAD to have been so intense and unbearable.

You asked if WE were passionate about Christ's sacrifice and mission. I will have to admit that the intensity of my passion for Christ and His mission varies from time to time. Because passion IS an emotion....there are ebbs and flows. I FEEL very passionately "in love" with Christ monthly at the communion table...when I focus again on just what He accomplished on my behalf....I love Him deeply in those moments. Holy week and especially Good Friday service always ingnites that passion because my focus is on HIM ...how can you NOT love HIM intensely? Does that intense feeling last ALL of the following month...every day? No, in all honesty...I can't say that it does.....although I have an ongoing feeling of thanksgiving for His sacrifice that makes fellowship with Him possible...I can't say that I experience that PASSION all of the time.

Do I have a passion for His mission? Yes....my heart's desire is that EVERYONE hear and respond to the provision of Christ for their sin "problem" and come to a saving knowledge of Christ. Do I stand on the corner and proclaim the "good news" ? No,...but I give to many ministries that DO activley proclaim the good news...and I do in my own way...one on one...maybe too timidly at times. Am I "consumed" by a need to tell the good news?
I guess I would have to admit that I'm not as "consumed" as I should be. This will be good "food for thought" and prayer, over these next several days...thanks for the challenge to be a more passionate follower. Ruthie

Anonymous said...

In the king james version, the greek word pavscw is translated “passion” in only one instance – Acts 1:3

Ac 1:3
To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them * * forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

although the same greek word is used a total of 40 times in the New Testament, in every other case, the word was translated “suffer” rather than “passion.”

It’s interesting to note that in the New American Standard, “pavscw” is translated after his “suffering” in Ac 1:3.

Certainly Christ suffered and just as I once said that I was certain the early persecuted disciples were only able to endure the suffering they did and remain loyal to Christ because they loved him so passionately, I’m certain that Christ even though he was God was only able to suffer the things he suffered for us because he loved, loves, and will continue to love us so passionately.

I lost my little dog recently. She was 15 years old and it just broke my heart to lose her. Everyone thought that I should get a new dog to cure my broken heart, but I told everyone, “No. I’m not getting another dog. Apartment buildings always charge exorbitant pet deposits for one thing.” At that point my boss at work volunteered to pay any pet deposits I might incur so I would get another dog to cheer me up. I still said no.

I told people. I’ve lived in some pretty terrible places just to be able to keep that little dog. I’ve paid exorbitant amounts of rent to move into run down apartments with cockroaches and rodents when I could have lived in much nicer apartments for a lot less rent just to be able to keep her. I had no choice because I already loved her dearly, so I suffered through a lot just to keep her with me. If I don’t get attached to another dog, I will never have to “suffer” that way again.

Which begs the question -- Is love really love if there is no sacrifice or suffering involved? Well, yes I supposed it is. I’m sure Paris Hilton loves her little toy Chihauhau even though she can pass it off to her chauffeur whenever she gets out of her limo and can buy whatever house she wants and make her own pet rules, but my love for my pet was tested and her’s hasn’t been tested yet.

Do we really ever know for sure how passionate we feel about something or someone unless our love is tested? I think not, so it seems fitting that the word in Acts 1:3 could be translated either “suffer” or “passion” accurately.

I don’t, however, think a Christian’s passion can be proven by whether they stand on the street corner and witness or not. I think of one group of teenagers that do that on a corner in the large city where I live and frankly, it annoys most people, (even other Christians) with a megaphone blasting words like “hell” and “damnation” in their ears as they walk by. It clearly isn’t working. They’ve been doing it for over five years and their church hasn’t grown at all. I used to think it is because their message sounds more like fire and brimstone than the “good news” or “gospel,” but lately I wonder if it isn't ineffective because it isn’t coming from a passionate personal relationship with Jesus Christ leading them personally to witness in that fashion, but instead out of blind obedience and loyalty to the pastor of their church.

When I feel passionate about something, I cheerfully and gratefully spend as much time with the someone or something as I can. Where my treasure is, there will my heart be also so I am willing to spend money on my passion as well. But when the rubber really meets the road is when I am willing to sacrifice or suffer for my passion.

I once watched an artist carving a work of art until his fingers bled. The end result was amazing not because he bled, but because of the passion he felt for this art. He loved his art enough to suffer for it and it showed in the sculpture.

I am the clay and the God is the potter. If I simply trust him, I needn’t worry about how I will turn out because I know how much the master was willing to suffer for the love of his creation. A masterpiece is the only thing that can result as long as I put my trust in him and not myself.

gentledove

Anonymous said...

I have this friend at work who loves NASCAR. I swear, if he had a chance, he'd have a stock car tatooed on his chest. In fact, that might already be the case; I've never asked. We can talk about work stuff, about some movie we saw, the weather, and it's all about the same to this guy. It's important, but not really important. But mention some race that was on last Sunday, and, boy howdy, his eyes light up like NYC at New Years. He goes absolutely nuts. He knows stuff about NASCAR that the drivers don't even know. The tranformation in this guy is the stuff of legend.

It's a passion to him.

You can't fake that. If I were to try to talk about NASCAR to another NASCAR fiend, they would pick out in a hurry that I couldn't care less about cars driving around in circles for hours on end. I don't have that passion.

You can tell if someone has that passion for something. It's been said that passion is like that slow buring fire that's inside, slowly warming the rest of the soul until it's aflame.

It's not a superficial emotion. It's not found just on the surface. It's a whole body thing. It's like you've given your all to this thing. Almost an obsession. You can't stop thinking about it. If someone were to ask about your passion, they could almost feel the heat of it as you reply.

It's amazing, then, to see the Passion of Jesus in such a light. If that is passion, then that's how He viewed the Crucifixion and Resurrection. That's how He saw Redemption.

That's how He sees us.

Jesus is passionate about me. About you. I've always thought that God would be so interested in everything. The Universe, quantum physics, Lima Beans, but really, His passion is for those that He saved.

I tend to think of Jesus approaching this Passion Week with a bit of hesitation. Kind of like a kid having to do some chore that his Dad has ordered. "Aw, Daaaaad...." Instead, He was passionate about doing it.

Mind boggling.

Just my two cents worth.

Blessings on you all.

Dan-o