In his excellent book “Renewing Your Spiritual Passion,”Gordon MacDonald makes this observation about passion. “It is hard to measure and difficult to pin down. But you know when you have it, and you are quite aware when you don’t.”
MacDonald continues, “One feels passion; it seizes you! Passion stimulates human performance: superior or excellent performance, strange or bizarre performance, compassionate or sacrificial performance.”
Everyone is passionate about something or someone. Some folks have a passion for sports, even a specific sport–basketball, baseball, football, or track. Others are passionate about hunting or fishing. Some possess a strong passion for their business, profession or occupation. You may have a hobby you are passionate about.
Sadly too many today are lacking a passion for spiritual matters. Even among those who profess Christianity. Oh, they attend church service. Take communion. Engage in some activities. But the passion is missing.
In 1746 Jonathan Edwards published a book, The Religious Affections, in which he argued that “true religion must consist very much in the affections,” Edwards saw that one of the chief works of Satan was “to propagate and establish a persuasion that all affections and sensible emotions of the mind, in things of religion, are nothing at all to be regarded, but are rather to be avoided and carefully guarded against, as things of a pernicious tendency.”
Furthermore, Edwards warned about religion becoming “A mere lifeless formality.” And turning off “the power of godliness, and everything which is spiritual.”
Edwards went on to say,“As there is no true religion where there is nothing else but affection, so there is no true religion where there is no religious affection.”
Our passion ought to be reflected in our worship. However, too often in our sincere desire to do things “decently and in order,” we’ve sucked the passion right out of our assemblies. The command to worship God “in spirit and in truth” is two-fold. While truth must be respected, taught and practiced, it is also equally vital to worship with zeal, enthusiasm, and passion.
As we sing and “make melody in our hearts” the inward passion for praising God out to be reflected in our outward demeanor. The Psalmist said, “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord! (Ps 122:1). Is worship a joyous experience, or a drudgery to be endured?
The command not to neglect the worship assembly in Hebrews 10:25 is preceded by this exhortation. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” Our fellowship should stimulate us. Spur us on. And stir us up.
Passionate worship refreshes the soul. Renews the spirit. And revives the heart. It has the power to recharge our spiritual batteries.
But our passion for spiritual matters is not to be confined to a church building once a week, but to be lived daily in our various pursuits of life. When we are truly transformed in mind and heart; people should see our passion and pursuit of pleasing the Lord. It is the joy of our salvation that David wrote about in Psalm 52:12.
Sometimes, like David, we need a revival and restoration of our joy. Our passion may be drained by unconfessed sin, unscriptural attitudes, unresolved conflict or an undernourished spirit. Through fervent prayer, scriptural meditation, and enthusiastic worship, we can reconnect with God and rediscover our passion.
Hegel once observed that “Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.” This is true in the sports arena, in the business world, and in our quest spiritually.
We must not be satisfied with the status quo. With being average. Mediocre. Or merely going through the motions. Passion pushes us to new heights. Deeper devotion. Greater service. And higher aspirations.
Phillips Brooks expressed the importance of passion when he wrote, “Sad will be the day for any man when he becomes contented with the thoughts he is thinking and the deeds he is doing – where there is not forever beating at the doors of his soul some great desire to do something larger; which he knows he was meant and made to do.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman