Mention the word “passion” and several images will quickly rise to the surface—everything from a person’s all-consuming desire and interests for just about anything to a crime committed in the heat of a moment (i.e., a “crime of passion”).
The dictionary defines the word passion as “a strong, barely containable emotion,” and the first listed expression of such emotion is this: ardent love. That is why I believe the word passion and LOVE are tied together.
Thoughts about passion, and living passionately, are written about by people in every walk of life—and rightfully so, as this word is hardly limited to Christian thought. The understanding of the necessity of passion is caught in this short list of people, some current, some from a time long past:
“Those who live passionately teach us how to love. Those who love passionately teach us how to live.”
~Sarah Breathnach (author)
“The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence, but in the mastery, of his passions.”
~Alfred Tennyson (poet)
“Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn.”
~John Wesley (pastor/theologian)
But as much as I like that last quote, life isn’t as easy as “lighting oneself with the fire of passion.” People who are wanting to live biblically while showing others the love of God in the way we live can’t just snap our fingers, light ourselves on fire for God, and ignite Godly passion in our own hearts, much less in our own church or city. We don’t possess the ability. For godly passion—the kind that we read about in Ephesians 5—comes from God.
This word passion is tricky business! I must confess—a prevailing weakness in my life has been the recurring tendency to try to gain passion in my own strength. It is so easy to buy into that notion of “lighting oneself on fire” and its myriad expressions, which include: “If you don’t scratch your own back, no one will scratch it for you…” We so easily fall into self-reliance, even though we should know better.
I believe the Bible gives us a pure example of balanced passion, and it is found in Jesus’ love for the church. In Ephesians 5, husbands are called to love their wives “as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.”
The “her” mentioned here is the imagery for the “Bride of Christ,” understood as the people of God, those that He (Jesus) called to Himself. Christ’s giving of Himself on the Cross for us is the supreme example of passion in action. He did this all out of His great love for the church.
So, while I can’t really light myself on fire with passion, or “will” love and devotion into my life, I can do something as easily as follow my leader—Jesus.
By going to Him, the true source, I can receive from Him. I can humble myself, follow His example, and just maybe, I can lay down my will and desires…and become a greater blessing to my wife, my children, and my friends, at my job or my church.
And when I do that, I have accomplished the best kind of passion.