In his book simply entitled, Preaching, G. Campbell Morgan relates a story about the 19th century English actor William Charles Macready and an eminent preacher of that day.
“I wish you would explain to me something,” said the preacher.
“Well, what is it?” Macready responded. “I don’t know that I can explain anything to a preacher.”
“What is the reason for the difference between you and me? You are appearing before crowds night after night with fiction, and the crowds come wherever you go. I am preaching the essential and unchangeable truth, and I am not getting any crowd at all.”
“This is quite simple,” Macready retorted, “I can tell you the difference between us. I present my fiction as though it were truth; you present your truth as though it were fiction.”
From this story, Morgan makes the case for passionate preaching. One of my favorite preaching quotes is from Morgan who said, “If I am asked to condense into words the essentials of a sermon, I do it with these three: Truth, Clarity, Passion.” Another is from Dee Bowman who wrote, “Preaching that does not storm the will is not good preaching.”
But passion is not just reserved for preachers who proclaim God’s Word from the pulpit. It must be the quality of every Christian who puts into practice what he professes.
As we conclude our series, “Having a Heart for God,” based on our VBS material, we see that David, “a man after God’s own heart,” possessed a passionate heart. And his passion was Godward. Many of his Psalms reflect that fervent feeling.
As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
There are many passion killers that diminish our relationship with God. Too often we replace really knowing God with knowing facts about God. It’s not enough to be able to memorize passages, recite facts and explain theological concepts, God wants us to “draw near” to Him, so we can enjoy a relationship with Him.
Our passion may be hindered by an undernourished spirit through a lack of Bible study, prayer and worship. It may be hampered by a relationship conflict. Or an undisciplined lifestyle. And our passion is always dampened by unconfessed sin.
If we are to revive our passion and reconnect our hearts with His, we must do what David did.
#1 Develop a deep love for God’s Word. Psalm 119 speaks to his devotion to the Word. He “delighted” in God’s commandments (v. 47) and exclaimed how much he loved God’s law and spent time in meditation (v. 48, 97). “Revive me according to Your Word” v. 25), was his plea and passion.
#2 Enter into worship with excitement and enthusiasm. “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord” (Ps. 122:1), exclaimed David. Worship ought to be a joyful experience. A time of spiritual refreshment, renewal, and revival. When it becomes a wearisome duty, then passion soon subsides.
#3 Connect with God through His creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God, And the firmament shows His handiwork,” exclaimed David (Ps. 19:1). Many of his Psalms express delight and rapture at nature. They speak of His “awesome acts.” His “wondrous works.” And his “majesty” in creation. David even sees all nature praising God.
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
#4 Look within yourself and see how you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14). The complexity of the human mind and body is marvelous. It shouts “There is a God!” And to feel within us the stirring of the spirit and knowing we possess that a God-given soul that will never die but live on. Indeed “the Lord has been mindful of man” (Ps.8).
Having a heart for God is having a heart of passion. About Him. About life. And about the prospects of our eternal dwelling place with Him.
“But whatever you do,” wrote John Piper. “Find the God-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated passion of your life, and find your way to say it and live for it and die for it. And you will make a difference that lasts. You will not waste your life.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman