Passion can be a good thing. Don’t hear me wrong on this.
God-given passion can change the world.
But the truth is, we are imperfect.
Too often we are so wrapped up in our own thoughts, desires, and plans that we begin to see short-sighted. The problem with this tangled web is that we can get so caught up in it that we don’t even realize our passion is mis-guided. Out of focus. Dangerously hovering on the brink of destroying something that was once beautiful.
Jesus himself warned,
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” Luke 11:43
In this chapter of Luke there is a this long list of “watch out!” kind of warnings–and you can see a very clear example of being “passionately wrong”. These were teachers of the law and religious leaders. They followed the rules.
And they became the problem. Their passion for what they thought was right overshadowed what the law intended to do: bring justice and mercy and faithfulness.
I am passionate about my children and grandchildren. I absolutely want for them everything that is good and right in this world.
But I do not desire for them to have everything they want.
Life experience tells me that our desires and passions can often be misguided. Sometimes the things that we think we want or need can be distractions. Hindrances. BURDENS.
It’s only in following close to Jesus that we can keep our focus on the things that really matter.
Did Jesus focus on a person–or a person’s heart? Did He come to be served or to serve? His commands were not to follow rules–but to follow HIM.
Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command.” Matthew 22:37-38
And then He commands us to love each other:
“The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” Matthew 22:39-40
And so God’s plan comes full-circle:
God gave us the law to show us how to live; Jesus lived to show us what that looks like.
He was passionate about saving lost people. He brought hope and healing. He broke down the walls of religion and tradition and politics–bringing true freedom.
His life and death gave us a freedom that many take for granted. We are free to live and serve and worship the God Who created us–and His desire for us is not just for us to follow His “rules”, but that we would worship him, passionately, above all else.
Do you remember the story of Mary and Martha in John chapter 12?
“Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany where Lazarus was, the one Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for Him there; Martha was serving them, and Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of fragrant oil—pure and expensive nard—anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped His feet with her hair. So the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.”
Mary was passionate about worshiping Jesus; naysayers were watching.
“Then one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot (who was about to betray Him), said, “Why wasn’t this fragrant oil sold for 300 denarii and given to the poor?”
More importantly, JESUS WAS WATCHING!
“Jesus answered, “Leave her alone; she has kept it for the day of My burial. For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.”
Jesus saw her heart.
Her passion was for Him, and that was all that mattered. Just because others didn’t understand, or maybe never considered that what she was doing would be an act of worship–didn’t matter. What mattered was that Jesus knew her heart.
And she was passionate about Him.
I love that her passion for worship was not influenced by the naysayers or even by what it might have cost her. The crowd may have been oblivious (and short-sighted!), but Her unabandoned passion for the Savior was noticed–
by the One that matters!