Monday, March 9, 2009

The Deception of Passion

Is it just me or does there seem to be a real preoccupation with 'Passion' among Christians these days. How to maintain a 'Passion for God'. How to stir your 'Passion for God'. There are worship music series called 'Passion'. A quick look at my own song directory found 11 worship songs with 'passion' in the title and over 200 with 'passion' in the lyrics. I had a youth pastor a few weeks ago tell me that his number one objective was to stir these young people to 'Passion for God'. I watched a youth group recently as they were loudly exhorted to 'release your emotion to Jesus' and to 'show him your passion'.

I love having passion for Jesus and the things of God, but that word in our culture means little more than a stirring of emotions. And if our emotions are the thing that is driving our relationship with Christ... if our feeling are the thing on which we hinge our faith... we are doomed! My fear is that we are grooming a Christian culture that judges their spirituality by their 'goose bumps' and their emotional displays.

Yes, I know that this seems an odd position for me to take... those who know me know that I am a big proponent of 'experiencing Jesus' and 'sensing the Holy Spirit'. Like I said, I love the passion... the emotions... the 'goose bumps'... but I also know what its like to live without them and to still know that God loves you... he's with you... and he's for you.

My relationship with Marie ebbs and flows. We have been together now for over 27 years and the passion and romance is as hot as ever. But there have been seasons in those 27 years where it wasn't so hot... and the emotions were not always in line with the commitments we had made to each other on our wedding day. If feelings... if passion was the measuring stick then we probably wouldn't still be together... commitment is what carries you through the times when feelings fail... and eventually the tide returns and the passion comes back... the emotions come back in line with the commitment.

If our walk with God... our relationship with Christ is anchored only on our passion then we will feel abandoned by God as soon as the emotions go quiet. But that is exactly where faith is found... faith is the substance of something you are looking for and know is real but can't currently see or fully experience (Heb 11:1). Faith holds on when things are hard and God is hard to find. And where does this type faith come from? Faith comes by a 'word from God' (Rom 10:17)... we will never move beyond an emotionally based faith in God, which I'm not sure is really 'faith' at all, if we don't move toward a knowledge of Him as revealed in His word. That type faith is confident and secure in the knowledge of the one we serve even when the circumstances block our heart from seeing Him.

Seek passion for Jesus... desire to sense His presence and to feel His embrace. But know him through His word and let that anchor you in the times you can't feel His touch.

But songs about discipline and bible study are not nearly as much fun to sing.

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