One of my first memories of living in Charlotte was going to a local buffet-style restaurant. As I stood in the monotonous line with my empty plate in need of a good filling, a southern gentleman stepped up to the buffet and gazed at the spread of greens, fruits, breads and entrees.
As he surveyed the food, he did something that shocked and amazed me. Suddenly, the man spread his arms wide and with a great infectious smile, he declared in a voice loud enough to be heard across the restaurant, “Thank you, Sweet Jesus, for this beautiful, amazing spread of foods before me!”
Wow! And me? I was just going through the line, another day, another meal. No big thing. I had not even considered how amazing it is to walk into a restaurant and feast from a spread of food that would once be found only at a king’s table.
Here is what I want you to know: Something miraculous happened as I heard the man unashamedly thanking God for providing a bountiful meal. In that moment, I was allowed a sneak peak into a heart of honest and fearless passion for God. And like a flame, his joy immediately spread to ME. It changed not only my lunch experience, but my entire day as well. I brought an empty plate to that buffet and this stranger filled it with much more than simple foods. He scooped up a helping of gratitude and pure joyfulness.
Christ’s life, too, was filled with passion. He was passionate for His Father. He was passionate for the poor. He was passionate for God’s word. He was passionate for his disciples, his friends. He was passionate for the overlooked, the oppressed, the downtrodden, the hungry, the sorrowful and the sick. The very act of dying of the cross is termed “The Passion of Christ.” He was passionate for US.
It is also true that His passion offended. It annoyed the religious Pharisees who had lost their own passion for God’s heart. They hated and despised it.
Even today, the world would prefer that we silence our passion. More than ever, Christians are feeling pressure to keep our passion to ourselves. I’ll come right out and admit to you that I feel uncomfortable showing my passion in public. I worry that my passion might be considered “intolerant.” But why is that? My passion is simply my passion. I shouldn’t have to contain it for the comfort of others, and yet I sometimes I do. The truth is that my outward expression doesn’t restrict anyone else from being passionate about their own beliefs. And yet, I worry that my passion for Christ may offend others. And here’s the reality: it does.
When we encounter an example of true passion for Christ, it’s like a mirror with the power to show what is missing in our own hearts. When I come across an example of such passion, sometimes I, too, am tempted to put it down. “Are they for real?” I may question, although I have no right to ask this question. And then, thank God, the Spirit reminds me that the problem … is me. The reason I am offended is because I’ve lost my own passion for God. It’s a red flag to return to my first love.
The good news is that passion is revived simply by returning wholeheartedly to Christ, who graciously forgives our wanderings and calls us back to Him. It’s called grace, and it’s the spark that re-ignites the fading flame of passion.
Life is so fleeting, so brief. I don’t have a moment to waste by living a passionless life. I want to squeeze every ounce of joy out of the promises of God. I apologize in advance if my passion offends you. I’ll warn you right now, you may just hear me belting out a loud “Thank you, Sweet Jesus,” the next time you dine out at a local buffet.
The question I leave you is this: Do you want to live with or without passion? Don’t allow anyone or anything steal it away from you! Passion is like water: we need it to become all that God intends for us to be.
We only get one life. Fill it daily with a huge serving of passion!
Now He came near the path down the Mount of Olives, and the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles they had seen:
Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heaven!
Some of the Pharisees from the crowd told Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if they were to keep silent, the stones would cry out!”
— Luke 37-40 HCSB