Have you ever been around someone with passion? It’s infectious, isn’t it? There is something about having a passion that has the ability to motivate and stir those around us. When it comes to the level of spirituality in our lives, and in our churches, there is only one word that would be acceptable to describe it. Passionate! Jesus was quite clear in Revelation 3 that He would rather have us be cold than lukewarm. In fact, He said that He would vomit those out of His mouth who were unrepentantly lukewarm. (Rev 3:16) The fact that He is speaking to a church in that text should serve as a sobering reminder to us all that we can’t tolerate passivity in our spiritual walk.
Church history shows that as leaders we haven’t always done a great job fostering a healthy passionate level within the people we are leading. The truth is, more often than not, our invented strategies end up failing to achieve the desired goal. I believe this doesn’t have to be so. In fact, I believe that there is a way that God has laid out for us to achieve a passionate spiritual level in our lives and churches. The secret is to develop a threefold expression of being based in the Word, being Spirit directed and being world focused. If we compromise any of these three areas we run the dangerous risk of apathy.
Today, we are living in a time when we need to know what we believe and why we believe it like never before. We are living in a time when Biblical truth is being distorted at an alarming rate. I am not just talking about outside of the church, I am talking about inside the church. I find it very interesting and concerning that all of the New Testament warnings about deception are not written to unbelievers in the world but believers in the church. Apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy spoke about how people would heap up for themselves teachers to satisfy their itching ears. (2Tim 4:3) Due to the advancement of technology we have the ability to have teaching spread all over the world with a click of a button. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing if the teaching is biblically sound but if it’s not the results can be catastrophic.
I know the title for this portion is focusing on being based in the scriptures but we have to be more than just based, we have to be saturated in the Word of God. History speaks of the damage done when a partial truth is projected as a whole truth. It, in fact, becomes an untruth. We have to have the courage to declare the manifold wisdom of God in its entirety. In John’s Gospel, it says that Jesus came in the fullness of grace and truth. (John 1:14) We have to be doing the same. We can’t comprise truth in the name of cultural relevance but we can’t neglect the grace of God in the name of legalism.
The level of our spiritual passion is no better revealed than how we engage the world around us. It is a clear theme in Scripture and Church history that our faith is dead without works. (James 2:20) We may be the only Jesus some people see in this life, and the life we live speaks about the God we claim to serve. I believe we have lost so much ground in the mission we are called to because we have developed an “us” vs “them” mentality in the church. We don’t take interest in major problems in society and culture because involvement in them would be conceived as “worldliness”. I wonder what the world would look like if Martin Luther King Jr had thought that the issues of racism in his time wasn’t his responsibility because this world was going to eventually pass away and he would be in heaven. We would still be entrenched in such evil and hatred. I know that we as a society still have long ways to go in combating racism and prejudice but his engagement brought great freedom for so many.
James makes a connection of how the works, in the world, of a professing believer, are non-negotiable in Gods view. James 1:27 says this, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (NLT) If God says that this is pure religion that is undefiled, then to neglect our service to the people around us on a daily basis, would mean our worship to God with our actions is both impure and defiled. The passage at no point clarifies to say that it is only related to orphans or widows within the church. This is saying that if we are not engaging the marginalized, or abused, or neglected with love and service then we are missing a huge part of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Jesus came not to serve but to be served and give His life as a ransom for many.(MT 20:28)
Please join me in praying this for yourself and your church.
Father, we desire to be those who represent you well. Those who demonstrate the reality of who You are and the reality of what Your Kingdom is all about. I pray that You would help us as Your people to be those who are Word based, Spirit directed, and World focused. Lord, there is no way that we have mastered all of these areas of living a passionate spiritual life. We are desperate for Your grace to empower us to live like You lived and love like You love. We pray this in the name above all other names, the name of Jesus. Amen