Friday, February 10, 2012

February...the month of Passion

               Ah…it’s February, the month we devote to things such as love, Lent and looking for spring! On the shelves at Wal-Mart, the Dollar Tree, and Belks, we see all things Valentine: stuffed animals, candy packages, and that grace of any day of love…chocolate! Yummo!

              This time of year when we celebrate the special love we have for our Valentines, most of us pause to think about that person. We will remember those first days, months or years of passionate pursuing we engaged in in order to gain the attentions and love of our one and only. Women and men have been known to do some pretty insane things to win the love of their intended.

              On Sunday, January 29, along with a faithful bunch of Pisgahites, I attended the Gastonia District Leadership Conference.  There were workshops provided on many areas of church leadership. The workshop I chose to attend was the one called Revitalizing Churches.

Among many things we learned was the one vital component to maintaining vitality or revitalizing a church. It was PASSION! The workshop leader said that in order to be a vital growing church anywhere and at any time, the members must be passionate, not for the church, but for Jesus.

              Passion is one of those words that have many meanings, some good and some not so good. Passion can be defined as the burning desire for a particular person, thing, or activity. I know people who have, and actively develop a passion for such things as bow-hunting, history, music, golf, pottery, and such people as Justin Beiber, Mother Teresa, and Abraham Lincoln. (People also have passions for drinking, cussing, and carousing.)

              When we Christians think about the word passion, often the betrayal, suffering and crucifixion of Jesus comes to our mind. That story which is clearly depicted in the gospels is known as the passion of Christ. I have wondered just how the word we use for ultimate love, the word we use for the burning desire for something or someone could be associated with such a horrific event. Was it that Jesus experienced a passion for the cross? Did he have a burning desire to suffer the humiliation and the pain of what happened to him? No.

              I believe that the passion that Jesus had was not for the torture he endured. I believe that the passion Jesus had was for something else, actually someone else. Jesus’ passion embodied the all-consuming desire to save humanity, no matter the cost. The passion of our Lord was for us! There has never been a greater love exhibited for anyone or anything than the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ.

              When we commit our lives to Christ, we commit to placing our passion in him. We commit to do the things that Jesus wants us to do in order to complete the passion of the Lord; that passion to save all of human kind.

Passion for Jesus amounts to passion for the lost, those who are not connected to God. Passion involves suffering for their cause. Suffering for anything doesn’t “preach” very well, but the truth is, Christians do suffer in various ways to bring the good news.

We are the souls who embody the passion of Christ in the present. We have to ask ourselves, how much do I love Jesus? How much am I willing to suffer? How far will I carry the cross? What insane thing am I willing to do in order to share the good news with a hurting soul?

              Someone asked the question yesterday. Will we ever be able to finish our ministries? The answer is: we will be done, when all have heard about Jesus' saving grace.  Until then, we will continue to embody the passion of the Christ. 

Our suffering will be rewarded. One day I will meet the Lord face to face. All of us will. The Lord will ask me, what have you been doing in the world? What answer will I have to give Jesus, whose passion was completely focused on me? What answer will you have to give your Lord, whose passion was completely focused on you too?

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