Passion is a strong emotional state. It is God given. Though the word passion is used only once in the KJV Bible, the Bible describes saints with strong emotions throughout its pages.
The question I have for you is: Do you have a passion for Christ?
Its relatively easy to figure out. You are doing the things that you are passionate about. You might be thinking right now about all the things that you are doing without passion. That is, you are thinking about the things that you are obligated to do but would rather not be doing.
Then why are you doing these things? What is it that is driving you to do those things? What is it that drives you to fulfill your obligations even if doing so is unpleasant? A sense of obligation? A sense of fulfilling responsibilities? Fear of consequences of failing to fulfill your obligations?
The strong emotion of passion
Most of us think of passion as emotional desire. And that is right. That is how we use the word today. But passion (pascho) used in the Bible always refers to strong emotion associated with suffering.
Acts 1:3 is the one verse in the Bible where the word passion is translated from saying,
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.
Every year we set aside a special day to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Of course, this is something we do every day as Christians, but once a year there is world-wide attention to the celebration of Christ’s resurrection.
The days prior to Christ’s resurrection are referred to as His passion. This passion comes from the Greek word pascho, which means to experience suffering and vexation. Those are strong emotional responses to something bad occurring.
Christ did not fulfill His promise to make salvation possible as an obligation required to save our souls. He was determined and committed to doing so out of love. What He had to suffer to fulfill His promise did not feel good, but it was necessary to accomplish the goal. Passion drove Him to endure the suffering of torture on the cross.
There is nothing wrong with being emotional. And there is nothing wrong with having strong emotions. This is what passion is all about. And God designed us to be emotional creatures blessed with passion. Passion is a God given emotion that compels us to serve Him no matter the cost even as His passion compelled Him to suffer the cross.
But like anything else, it can be abused. Eating can be gluttonous, sex can be promiscuous, seeing can be lustful, ambition can be greedy, success can be proud, and intelligence can be arrogant.
Emotions can be foolish and override sobriety and self-control. And the loss of control over emotions should be feared.
So, like anything else, emotions need to be controlled. God does not want us to discard emotion. He wants us to use them. They should be used to the glory of God. And like all other God-given qualities that we possess, we need to nurture our emotions. It is called emotional health.
Having a passion for Christ is a blessing. And God is interested in blessing us.
Passion with purpose
Obviously, passion is more than a giddy, out of control feeling. It is a strong desire. David was passionate about devotion to God. Jeremiah was passionate about fearing God. Elijah was passionate about showing the power of God. Peter was passionate about proclaiming God. Paul was passionate about serving God. John was passionate about his love for God. Passion compelled them in their pursuits regardless of hardships and persecutions.
Christ did not feel good about being beaten and nailed onto the cross. Paul did not feel happy and overjoyed about being beaten, flogged, shipwrecked, and starved, but he was passionate. You see, passion is an emotional state that goes beyond feeling good for the moment. It is strong feeling about something important to you.
This kind of passion is focused. It has purpose. It drives you with an edge of intensity and sense of urgency. I am not talking about short term bursts of energetic sprinting. I am talking about a prolonged passion that endures throughout a lifetime. A passion that sustains one’s commitment to God through the good and the bad times. A passion that gave martyrs the courage to endure burning at the stake.
As for feeling happy and sad, emotions come and go. They are up and down. But passion is strong emotional desire for things that are important to us. Passion takes us through difficulties and pushes us to endure hardship. It is passion that makes us pay the price for things that are really important to us.
How passionate are you about Christ? In Romans 12:1, Paul exhorts us saying,
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
If you are not willing to pay a price for serving Christ, you are not passionate for Christ. And ask yourself this question: If what you give Him is not really a sacrifice of your time, talent, and treasures, why call it a sacrifice? Can you call it having passion for Christ? And if it is not a sacrifice, then how do you fulfill Romans 12:1?
As I mentioned before, David was a passionate man who he had his ups and downs. But during a down time of lost passion, when he was indulging himself rather than serving God, he came to a point of wanting to renew his passion. It was important to him. Obviously, he did not lose his passion altogether. He knew what was important, but he was lacking the joy and fulfillment of serving God. He was struggling to do right.
And so David did something that we too should take note of. He prayed. He had a passion to pray for passion.
In Psalm 51:12, David prays to God,
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
David’s example is important to us all. Passion for Christ begins with prayer. This is a prayer that God wants to answer. It is a prayer that He will answer. Thus, the only thing that stands between you and having passion for Christ is failure to pray for it.
I leave you with this exhortation: pray for passion, and let God bless your soul. Don’t blame others for your sadness, for your depression, for your anger, or whatever it is that has you down. Passion for Christ is between you and Christ. Jesus, Paul, Peter, Jeremiah, and many others endured hardships and opposition because they still had passion. They never blamed someone else for failing Christ or for their lost passion for Christ. And you can do likewise.
Dr. Patrick Briney’s evening evening message at Mission Blvd. Baptist Church on March 12, 2014.