Summary: If passion is connected to Christ’s suffering for our salvation, then how should we relate to His sufferings?
What comes to mind when you hear, or see the word passion? Webster’s Dictionary says that passion is “intense emotional excitement.” That excitement can run the spectrum from being “white-hot” with anger to being “red-hot” in love. Webster’s also identifies the word passion with the crucifixion and sufferings of Jesus Christ. That usage can be seen the movie Mel Gibson produced a couple of years ago: The Passion of the Christ.
What does the passion of Jesus Christ mean to you and me today? What impact should it have on our lives? Would you say that Jesus was passionate about His mission here on earth? Would you say that you are passionate about your relationship with Him? In a few minutes we are going to look at a story about Paul and Silas from Acts 16 that reveals their passion for Christ, but before we do I want us to talk a little bit more about what passion is.
If passion is connected to Christ’s suffering for our salvation, then how should we relate to His sufferings? Let’s begin with what Paul says in…
29For it has been given to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe£ in Him, but also to suffer for Him…
We often want to stop at believe so that we won’t have to suffer, but if we do, we cannot truly be passionate about Jesus Christ. Peter addressed the same thing in his first letter…
13…as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah rejoice, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory. 14If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
Passionate followers of Jesus Christ are going to sharing in His suffering. If you Christian walk doesn’t challenge the world around you, then you need to take a look at how and where you are walking. I like the challenge that Paul gave to Timothy in his second letter to the young Pastor…
6Therefore, I remind you to keep ablaze the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.
8So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me His prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God,
Paul’s challenge was to stay “on fire” for Jesus—to be passionate about serving Christ. Timothy needed to remember that God didn’t want him to be controlled by fear, but rather by His power, love, and the discipline that comes from allowing the Holy Spirit to direct your life. What Paul said to Timothy might be summarized by a prayer like this:
Lord, teach me…
Lord, touch me…
Lord, torch me!
A few months ago you focused on the 40 Days of Purpose as a Church. That program was based on Pastor Rick Warren’s books: The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life. I’m all for being “purpose” driven. If fact, I wish I could have been here to be a part of that study with you. But the fact is, before this Church, or any Church becomes “purpose” driven it needs to become “PASSION” driven!
We need to pray that God, through the infilling of His Holy Spirit, will transform FBC into a “PASSION” Driven Church filled with PASSIONATE believers living PASSIONATE lives for Jesus Christ!
Let me pose one more question before we get to our story: What robs people and Churches of their passion? There are probably a multitude of answers to that question, but there is one thing that really seemed to hit home with me. People and Church are robbed of their passion by fatigue.
People and Church just plain “wear out” or, to use the term more often associated with spiritual things, they “burn out.” There is great danger with fatigue. Fatigue can cause both bridges and believers to collapse and crumble under the weight of the world around them, and I’m afraid that we have more fatigue within the Body of Christ than we want to admit.
The late, great coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi, once said: “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” Jesus understood the weariness of life, that is why He offered this “anti-fatigue” remedy:
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
Let me offer you three common causes of fatigue in the life of both Church and believers:
1. Compromise fatigue: This is where we face the pressures to fit in, be accepted, to not make waves, to be silent when we should speak up, to be more like the world than like Christ. Ultimately it leads to us giving in, which in turns leads to spiritual fatigue.