Summary: If you know that you lack, and you want to get back, then you can't slack.

The Deal With Zeal

Romans 12:11

Rev. Brian Bill


Have you heard about the traffic jam in China that has reached 60 miles long and lasted more than two weeks? Instead of hustling down the highway, cars have come to a crawl and in some places, no vehicles are moving at all. Some drivers have given up and have been playing cards with other stalled citizens and a few have just gotten out of their vehicles and taken naps on the pavement.

Likewise, some Christians have stalled out and have either become spiritually sleepy or taken to just playing games. Are you spiritually stuck today? Are you in a spiritual standstill? Do you wonder where all your passion has gone?

Over the last several years, I’ve tried to take popular spiritual slogans and analyze them from the perspective of Scripture. Let me tackle another one: “Let go and let God.” Now, I understand the heart behind this. For many of us controllers, we’re holding on to way too many things when God calls us to surrender to Him. But in another sense, this phrase is way too passive. We can’t just sit kick back on our couch and hope to grow in character or in Christ-likeness. The Bible speaks of an imperative urgency and the need for disciplined diligence. We can’t be spiritual slackers.

Many of us are way too passive either because we no longer care or maybe we think that somehow we’ll just become this super Christian with the passing of time. I have a friend who refers to this as the “Phantom Christian Life.” This is the belief that there’s a victorious, problem-free life out there somewhere for me and someday I’ll somehow get there, I just don’t know when. It’s a life filled with bliss and beauty and all things spiritual.

This idea of passivity has crashed into our pop culture as well. Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt, in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, predicted that in the future, Google will know so much about its users that the search engine will be able to help them plan their lives. Using profiles of its customers and tracking their locations through their smart phones, it will be able to provide live updates on their surroundings and inform them of tasks they need to do. Here’s what Schmidt said, “I actually think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.” (“Google and the Search for the Future,” August 14, 2010:

I listened to a sermon podcast this past week from Wayne Cordeiro. He made a statement that I haven’t been able to shake and I hope it sticks with you as well: “Life will not give you what you want, neither will it give you what you think you deserve, life will give you what you’re willing to settle for.”

He used an illustration to make his point. A college freshman named Smitty became the field goal kicker for the football team. At the end of a game he was called on to go in and kick a game-winning field goal but Smitty wanted to make his mark so he changed plays in the huddle. The ball was hiked directly to him and he started running and was clobbered and fumbled the ball. The ball was picked up and the opposing player started running toward the other end zone. The other players couldn’t catch him and then out of nowhere someone starting gaining ground on him. He was running like a streak of lightning. It was Smitty! He caught up to the other player and tackled him before he could score.

The assistant turned to the head coach and remarked, “Did you know Smitty had wheels like that? He beat our best athletes and made the tackle!” The head coach replied, “I’ll tell you why. The other guys were running because they were supposed to. Smitty was running because his life depended on it.” Friends, you and I must live like our life depended on it. And we must live wholeheartedly for Christ because the lives of others depend on it.

I’ve been contemplating something for quite some time and I want to address it this morning. I think in general, though certainly not across the board, PBC has lost some of its passion. And since PBC is made up of people like you and me, if my assessment is correct, then many of us have lost our zeal. Let me get more personal. My own zeal has wavered.

I want to propose that if you know that you lack, and you want to get back, then you can’t slack.

Please turn in your Bible to Romans 12:11: “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”

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