Passion is a word used frequently in our contemporary culture. We say that people are passionate about photography or jogging or any number of healthy habits. People can have passion for their family or their sports team or their pet. But what does it really mean to have a passion or to be passionate?
The online free dictionary defines passionate as “capable of having or dominated by powerful emotions.” Another definition says this, “having, compelled by or ruled by intense emotion or strong feeling.” So with these definitions in mind what does it mean for us as Christians to be passionate about worship or passionate about following Jesus Christ or passionate about the scriptures? Let me tell you what I witnessed recently and see if I can’t draw some conclusions for us.
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to watch my wife’s nephew play in a baseball tournament for fourteen year olds in the United States. They were the only Canadian team in this American tournament. Coming from Canada they had not played baseball all winter save for a few trips to the batting cages to get some rust off of their baseball swings. The team was put together by invitation for the coming baseball season but this was their first time playing together. After the first day I was impressed that they held their own against their American opponents. Many of the teams at the tournament were in their fifth or sixth tournament of the season already. When you live in Arizona or Texas or parts of California you can literally play baseball 12 months of the year. That was one difference I noticed but there was something else too.
As the tournament progressed and I watched more games I noticed our team didn’t seem to mind losing. They were excited about the adventure of being in the tournament but the actual game of baseball seemed almost secondary to them. I walked by their dugout during the game and the boys on the bench were talking about 14 year old boy stuff but their conversation was not about baseball even though they were right in the midst of a tournament. This stood out to me when I walked by the dugouts of some of the other teams playing.
There was an intense game going on between teams from California and Nebraska at the same time as our team was playing. When there was a break in the action of the Canadian team I would quickly walk over to this other game. I stood by the dugout of the Nebraska team. Their converstaion was all baseball all the time. When their team was up to bat the whole team was standing in the dugout watching and cheering. Every hit was important. Every out was significant. Every play was watched and either cheered or groaned about.
These 14 year old boys from Nebraska were passionate about baseball. Our boys from Canada were playing baseball. To me that`s the difference. When we won it was okay. When we lost it was okay. The emotion of the experience did not vary no matter what happened on the field. It would not be accurate to say that our Canadian guys were passionate about baseball. They probably enjoyed it. They had a certain level of committment to come all the way to that tournament but it would be inaccurate to refer to them as being passionate about baseball.
These other teams talked and acted like basball was the only thing that mattered to them. The sense you got from them was that they ate, drank, slept and played baseball.
I think we can see the difference. I believe God calls us to be passionate followers of Jesus Christ. I believe we should passionately engage the scriptures as the way to discover how to live in this world. I believe we have every reason to be passionate worshippers of our God. I`m just not convinced that we all get it.
I think some of us are like the team from Canada in the American baseball tournament. We are participating but we aren`t passionate. We are engaged but it would be inaccurate to refer to us as being passionate followers of Jesus Christ. We are playing the game of spirituality but we have a lot of other interests outside of our spirituality.
I recently read these words from Judges 21:25, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.“ That was not a good time in Israel`s history. The people had lost their focus and in losing focus they certainly lost their passion for following God. Today let`s take some time to evaluate ourselves. Let`s examine our passion levels when it comes to our relationship with our God.
After watching the tournament I was inclined to believe that spiritually speaking I wanted to be more like the boys from Nebraska who were on the edge of their seats with every pitch, every hit and every play in their game. Those boys had passion!