Summary: A look at why passion is important in the life of the believer.
The Importance of Passion
How many of you like to eat? It is no secret that I am one of those people, but there is one particular type of food that I love to eat. I love to eat a delicious meal that I cooked on my own. Does anyone else love to cook? When I have the time, I love to create new and exciting dishes that my wife and I get to be the guinea pigs for. You see, I love to cook, but I never use a recipe. Out of all the meals that I have ever cooked, I have probably only used a recipe a handful of times. When you cook like this, you have an opportunity to create a unique dish that is all your own; however, you also run the risk of creating a disaster.
Now, I must say that the disasters are few and far between. There certainly have been some flops, but there have also been quite a few successes. One thing has become abundantly clear however. I hardly ever get it perfectly right on the first try. Almost always, as I eat a newly created meal, I utter the phrase, “It’s good, but there is something missing.”
You know, when I look at the church as a whole in the United States, I come to the same conclusion. It’s good, but there appears to be something missing. Even though I am a young man by most people’s standards, I can still remember back 20 years ago and see a marked difference in the church as a whole. And, when I look back even further as we take a look into the Old Testament this afternoon, I see even more evidence that something is missing. If you have your Bibles, turn with me to Nehemiah 8:1-6.
When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, all the people assembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel. So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all whop were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women, and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law. Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion. Beside him on his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah; and on his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam. Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
As you read this Scripture, do you begin to see what is missing in our churches today? Maybe you see a bunch of things missing, but I think they can all be linked to one particular trait. I believe that we are missing the passion that the Israelites displayed here. How do I know they were passionate people? All you need to do is look to see what they were doing before they had this meeting.
Nehemiah was a cupbearer for King Artaxerxes, but the king knew that Nehemiah was not happy about something. Nehemiah was downcast because his hometown of Jerusalem lay in ruins. So, the King sent him off to rebuild the walls and gates of the cities. Nehemiah rounded up the people of Israel who were in and around Jerusalem and in 52 days, they finished construction on the entire wall and all the gates despite the fact that they had no heavy equipment and were under threat of attack at all times. Things were so bad that the workers wore their swords as they worked and held a spear in one hand while they worked with the other. How were they able to accomplish all of this? Verse 6 of chapter 4 holds the key when it tells us that “the people worked with all their heart.” Isn’t that what passion is all about? But, somewhere along the line, I think we started worshipping God with our heads instead of with our hearts. We replaced a zealous shout and a joyful noise with a stoic look and a nod of understanding. Pastors know what I am talking about here. Instead of receiving an “Amen” when the preaching is good, you look around and see heads nodding. We look to stay in control instead of letting our bodies and souls truly worship God spontaneously by letting them react to the holiness and goodness of Jesus Christ. We’ve lost the passion, and according to this passage, that leads to losing other things that makes church so great. Let’s take a quick look at the three E’s that come when passion returns. Before we do, let’s ask the Lord to lead us in this time.