Passion is in. I was reminded of that today as I finished the latest chapter of the book that Kaye, my sister-in-law, and I are working on together.
Passion is a cool word, and you’re cool if you use it in a sentence. Extra points if your face is filled with passion when you use “passion” in the aforesaid sentence.
Tony Robbins ends all the sessions in his famous audio series with it. “Live with passion!” he says. Sure beats the alternative. (Die with boredom?) Anyway…
There’s a huge college and young adult ministry called Passion that has been a driving force for worship influences, discipleship and evangelism for more than a decade now. Even the name connects with something that people sense a yearning for.
“Passions” is the name of a daytime drama, and passion.com is a sex-based dating service. Same word; different meaning entirely.
Sports fans talk about a passion for the game, or a passion for winning. Talk to a Cardinals, Red Sox, or Yankees fan on opening day. Hang out in a barbecue or beer joint in Birmingham around Thanksgiving weekend. Or watch Dale Jr. do – well, just about anything – and you’ll see passion.
The problem with passion, Kaye reminded me, is that like “love,” it gets tossed around in so many ways, it’s easy to lose its most important meanings. Others get concerned about passion because it has all the signs of checking your brain or your wisdom at the door. But maybe those concerned people have the same confusion as the dating service crowd – the idea that “passion” can only mean pleasure.Kaye looked it up. Here’s what she found in Webster’s:
1. Suffering or agony, as of a martyr, the agony and sufferings of Jesus during the Crucifixion or during the period following the Last Supper.
2. Extreme, compelling emotion: intense emotional drive or excitement.
Wow. Seems to me you can’t have one without the other. No pain, no passion.
Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision International, wrote in the flyleaf of his Bible, “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.” That’s passion. Hey, with that definition, I wonder if God feels passion for passion.com. I wonder if it breaks His heart.
I’m certainly not a fan of checking your brain or your spirit at the door in the name of senseless excitement – even “spiritual” excitement. But 30-plus in the bag have convinced me that it’s a whole lot easier to tame a wild horse than it is to raise a dead one. And given the choice between somebody who can’t seem to get enough of Jesus and somebody who never seems to “get” any of Him, give me the wild child any day.
Christianity’s greatest spokesman and leader seemed to find the balance. Somewhere beyond age 60, after more than 30 years of following Christ, Paul said that his consuming desire was to “know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings” (Philippians 3:10). There in one intersection of the heart was intimacy, power, and real passion.
One more thought, then I’d like to hear yours. Passion is often mistakenly presumed to be something that sort of happens to us – like an emotional mosquito bite or something. But Paul presents it as something of a choice – something we can put on like a uniform or a hat. Here’s the way he phrased it:
“Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so also you must forgive. Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity” (Colossians 3:12-15).
So I’ve decided to make up a new word – maybe you can help me spread it. It’s a verb – “passionate.” Read it like it rhymes with “resonate.” God’s truth is resonating, and I am passionating.
Passionating happens when I remember my identity as one who has been chosen, set apart, and loved lavishly by God. It happens when I allow myself to feel someone else’s life and feelings. It happens when I act in kindness toward somebody, even when I don’t feel anything. Passionating is the result of thinking of others as more important than myself, accepting their kookiness or quirks, and choosing to forgive them when I have a beef with them.
So what’s the alternative to passionating? Empty emotion or dead tradition. A meat market or a meat locker. Braggin’ rights or “wait ‘til next year!”
I also wonder what it means that I just got bit by a mosquito. Hmmm. Maybe it’s a sign. I’m getting excited!