Impact

Ultra-Christianity: Part 3 – Passion

Just running along, enjoying another training run on the secluded trails      along the Potomac River.  No one was around in the early morning winters’ day.  It was cold, but comfortable.  I was heading back home from the out-and-back trail run that morning.  During a typical training run, I spend time thinking, praying, meditating, trying to memorize Bible verses, etc.  But sometimes, not every run, I could be just thinking about something, and all of a sudden, God seems to stop me in my tracks and say something to me.  It’s funny how it happens, it always surprises me, yet it is so smooth and natural, like a divine whisper.

Just running along, enjoying another training run on the secluded trails      along the Potomac River.  No one was around in the early morning winters’ day.  It was cold, but comfortable.  I was heading back home from the out-and-back trail run that morning.  During a typical training run, I spend time thinking, praying, meditating, trying to memorize Bible verses, etc.  But sometimes, not every run, I could be just thinking about something, and all of a sudden, God seems to stop me in my tracks and say something to me.  It’s funny how it happens, it always surprises me, yet it is so smooth and natural, like a divine whisper.

As I mentioned in prior posts, I have a passion for distance running.  If you are around me long enough, I will most likely find a way to bring the topic out.  Unfortunately, those around me the most, probably hear too much about running.  There was a runner in the 1970’s who by far, had the most passion for running than I seen expressed in anyone.  He declared that when he raced, he left everything on the track. When he crossed the finish line (which was usually first), he gave it his absolute all, he was totally spent.  He once quoted: “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” – Steve Prefontaine.   I have been running for a long time.  In the introduction to this series, I mentioned that I calculated that I have run about 30,000 miles in my life so far.  That is just past one lap around the world.  One of my lifetime physical goals, the Lord willing, is to complete the second lap.  At the rate of running now (which is lower than previous, younger years), it will take me another 24 years, or so, maybe longer, to complete my second lap. 

As I was running, that day, God made it clear to me, in no uncertain manner, that He wanted me to have that level of passion or more for Him and His will.   That was the lesson.  First, understand what passion really is and then make Him the object of that kind of passion.

A quick word study of passion reveals the following:

The Greek word for passion is:  πάσχω(paskho) – meaning to suffer or to endure

I was surprised to see the close relationship between passion and endurance. We covered endurance as the first topic.   I would not naturally put those two words together, but God did.   Passion is an emotion applied to a very strong feeling about a person or thing.  Passion is an intense emotion compelling feeling, enthusiasm, or desire for something.  Passion is boundless enthusiasm.  Strong’s says the following about passion:

3958/pásxō("to experience feeling") relates to any part of us that feels strong emotion, passion, or suffering – especially "the capacity to feel suffering" (J. Thayer). The Lord has privileged us to have great capacity for feeling (passion, emotion, affections). Indeed, this is inherent because all people are created in the divine image.

We are called to love God and people.  Jesus most eloquently related this to us when stating:

 “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – Mark 12:30

Now that is passion!  Try doing something that requires “all” of an aspect of you. Something with “all of your heart”; difficult to understand, “all of your soul”; complex and easier said than done, “all of your mind”; makes your brain hurt just thinking about it, “all of your strength”; exhausting and depleting.  We usually live in a way to always have a little reserve saved up and not give everything up.  Using “all” of our resources for something is demanding, challenging, strenuous, and downright grueling.  Ah, sounds a little like suffering, which brings us back to “passion”.   However, do not be dismayed with this, the Lord will not call us to do something that we are unable to do.  In our obedience, we will be strengthened by Him.   He will give us the strength necessary to do as He requested:

He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. “ – Isaiah 40:29

“Finally, be strengthened in the Lord and in the strengthof his power.”  – Eph. 6:10

Along with having a passion for God and people, there should be a passion for the Word of God in our lives.   An understanding and an excitement to know that God’s Word is eternal, it has no time restraints, it is the very words breathed out of God’s mouth ages ago onto its pages. They are as fresh and powerful as when God released them.   We know that the Word of God is used for reproof, for correction, and for training of righteousness (2 Tim. 3:15), oh but to see and learn the very character of God by reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on it, now that is truly wonderful.  Psalm 119 is bursting with expressions about the love of the very words breathed by God.  Here are just a few:

“With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!” – Psa. 119:10

“Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.” – Psa. 119:97

“Rivers of water run down from my eyes, Because men do not keep Your law.” – Psa. 119:136

“Trouble and anguish have overtaken me, Yet Your commandments are my delights.” – Psa. 119:143

“My tongue shall speak of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness.” –  Psa. 119:172

Just having a Bible, maybe rushing through Quite Time reading it, or randomly opening it and looking at a verse or two once in a while, cannot possibly lead you to the kind of understanding God wants you to have about Him.  It’s much more.  John MacArthur says this about reading and understanding the Scriptures:  “If a person doesn't have a craving and a longing (concerning God’s Word), then all of the notes, with all of the material that they provide, are really useless, unless there is a passion in the heart of the individual to read with understanding the Scriptures.”  – John MacArthur

It is apparent that our passion for Him will drive how we act, how we worship Him, how we show our obedience towards Him, how we love others, and many other areas of our lives.  I might also submit that our “lack of passion” does this as well.   God showed His passion for us through His Son Jesus Christ.  He loved us so much that He gave Himself for us. (Gal. 2:20b).  Our passion can and should be nothing less than 100% for Him.  This lesson changed my perspective at the manner at which I was conducting my life.  Fully committed passion for God is required for Ultra-Christianity.

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Questions on Passion:

  1)   What do you have a passion for in your life?

  2)   Of the things you listed in question 1, would others say you have a passion for them?

  3)   What does the phrase “give it your all” mean to you?

  4)   What areas of your life have you “given it your all”?

  5)   What areas of your life have you not “given it your all”, but needed to (or want to)?

  6)   What parts of Psalm 119 speak to you the most (e.g. the answer cannot be “all of 119”)?

  7)   How does your passion for Christ affect the way you show obedience towards Him?

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4 Comments

  • Avatar

    John Christian Doe

    Great post

    I have a christian blog and Podcast, I love that you focus on calling men out to lead. I have a very popular post on this matter. John Christian Doe: "Be a man, Biblically" …

  • Avatar

    thom.garrett

    re: Great post

    Thanks JCD.  It's an important role (e.g. husbands and fathers as leaders), accountable to God. 

  • Avatar

    Mike Cha

    passion for truth

    Thank you for these great insights, Thom. I was listening to a podcast today, and one of the speakers stated, "True passion is derived from conviction of truth." This is so fitting in light of your connections between passion, suffering, and the Word of God (= absolute Truth). I also really appreciated your conclusion, "It is apparent that our passion for Him will… show our obedience towards Him…" Amen! I love how in the Scriptures, love for God is always equated to obeying His Word.

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    thom.garrett

    re: passion for truth

    Mike,

    Thanks for bringing into the discussion  the "passion for truth".  And this is a true saying: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." – John 1:1

    Thom.