While watching a basketball game tonight, some friends and I were joking back and forth about the differences between men and women. Somehow that conversation transitioned to a discussion of the qualities we find most attractive in persons of the opposite sex. When asked our opinion, my girl friend and I both answered that one of the top qualities we value in a man is passion.
Passion: I love that word! To be honest, if someone even routinely mentions the term, I can’t help but get excited. It immediately evokes notions of contagious enthusiasm, inspiring vision, meaningful action, and boundless devotion. When I picture passion, I picture grabbing life by the horns carpe diem style, refusing to settle for an apathetic existence. And, as I alluded to above, I love being around passionate people, those who are inspired by and take action on the vision God’s given them.
Ultimately, when it comes to passion, I want to passionately pursue Jesus Christ!
Thinking about this concept on my way home from the game, the question kept coming to mind: What does it mean to live with passion for Christ? We say the word “passion” so often, but how do we live it out day to day?
My favorite Christian conference – founded to encourage spiritual awakening amongst this generation – is called Passion. I’ve asked myself a similar question after each Passion Conference I’ve attended: Are we translating the spiritual excitement, emotion, and dedication that builds up during those three days of amazing messages and phenomenal worship to the everyday jobs we do, classes we take, games we play, and relationships we have? How do we live out the conference montra?
After limited reflection, while sitting here at the living room table, I’ll make the claim that passionately pursuing Christ means loving Him with absolutely everything – with our entire heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mk. 12:30). It means wholehearted commitment to Christ with every aspect of our being and our life. It means prioritizing our Savior, our First Love above all other things (Rev. 2:3-5). There’s a reason Jesus labeled loving Him the greatest commandment, and we should be passionate about living it out!
That leads me to one more question: How do we tangibly love God? John 14:21 provides a helpful suggestion. In this verse Jesus says, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.” He reiterates the idea two verses later: “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.”
So, passionate love for Christ is expressed as passionate obedience to Christ. As we grow in our knowledge and love of Christ and His Word – studying and applying His teaching – our lives will be transformed into the image of Christ and we’ll grow in obedience to His commands. Also, as we grow in our love for Christ, obedience becomes less a legalistic burden, more an exciting opportunity to honor our Lord and Savior.
If love is displayed in obedience, do our lives show that we passionately love Jesus Christ?
The emotions – that burning desire to know Christ and to live for His glory – might come easily enough. The words – those heartfelt prayers, public declarations of our love for God, and beautiful worship songs – might be completely genuine. And, while both emotions and words are important components of our relationship with Christ, Scripture says that our love for Him is revealed by our obedience. So, the real question is whether or not our actions reveal that we are passionately pursuing Christ.
Here’s the convicting part: obedient action requires so much more than following the Ten Commandments, avoiding the “big” sins of adultery, lying, stealing, or murdering. Obedient action extends to the little things – avoiding the friendly gossip, the inappropriate movie, the offensive music, the stingy spirit, the jealous grudge, the little white lie, the lazy effort at work, the prideful attitude at the gym, the entertainment gluttony, the exercise obsession, the fretful spirit, the uncontrolled temper, and the controlling ambition. That’s why I know I have so much room for improvement when it comes to living a life of passion :).
The good news is, as we actively aim to love and obey Christ, our hearts increasingly beat in tune with His heart and our desires increasingly become His desires. As a result, we are able to more clearly see this world according to His perspective. And as God reveals His vision, I pray that He will inspire us to take action for His purposes. I pray that we will passionately shine for His kingdom in the arena of work, study, and relationship that He’s placed us.
Lord, turn my burning passion into obedient action. I desire to live aflame for the glory of your Name!