Passionate not Passive
In "The Passion of the Christ," Mel Gibson presents a hard-hitting view of the reality of what is called the "Passion Week" -- the last week in the life of Jesus Christ. For those who have seen the movie, many would say passion is not a strong enough word to capture what our LORD Jesus went through to pay the ultimate price for the sins of the whole world. But without a doubt, our LORD Jesus had such great passion for you, He was willing to endure even the humiliation and torture of that Passion Week.
How many Christians do you know that you would describe as sold out, on fire, and totally in love with the passionate Jesus? How many of you would describe yourselves that way?
What would Jesus want us to be – passionate or passive?
I think what the church is missing today is passion. Many of us are missing a life of passion for Jesus Christ. Bold, fiery passion for the LORD Jesus Christ. Boldness in love for others and boldness in our witness. We have moved from passion to passivity. Content to let others do the work, we sit around happy and content to wait for “The Glorious Appearing.”
OK, “Guilty!” you say. So how do I get passionate again? How do I get past a passive faith and become one of those sold out, on fire, totally in love with Jesus kind of Christians?
Let’s take a look at the first chapter of 2 Timothy and see how Paul instructed Timothy in this regard.
Scripture: 2 Timothy 1:1-18
Main Point: The church of Jesus Christ needs passion not passivity in order to accomplish its mission. This means that every believer in the LORD Jesus Christ must develop a passionate faith.
1. Remembering in Prayer versus Reverting to Neglect.
1Paul, an apostle of Christ
Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ
3I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. (2 Timothy 1:1-3, NIV)
In 1 Timothy, Paul wrote “To Timothy my true son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2, NIV). Now he writes “To Timothy, my dear son” (2 Timothy 1:2, NIV). In this book, Paul writes his last words before being executed in Rome. We find a letter that is intimate, personal, and urgent in its presentation. Paul was a man of great passion for our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ.
Like Count Zinzendorf (father of Protestant world missions), Paul might have said: “I have but one passion; it is He, He only.” Paul’s passion for Christ is reflected in his love for people, especially young Timothy.
Though Paul was suffering in prison, and perhaps deserved a pity party if anyone did. Yet he did not neglect to remember others. Rather he remembered Timothy, his brother in Christ and partner in ministry, with much gratitude.
Are you one of those people who live by the “Out of sight, out of mind” approach? Unfortunately, I am like this. It is hard for me to remember things unless I have visible reminders. If it were not for Post-It Notes, I would not remember anything … As a project manager, I used to carry around a clear folder filled with all the hot items I needed to work on. On the outside of this clear folder, I covered it with Post-It Notes of the “really” hot items that needed much attention. It was a system that worked well for me.
So do you remember your brothers and sisters in Christ in your prayers or only when you see them? Do you say, “I’ll pray for you!” and then walk away and forget about it?
The beginning of passion is earnest prayer.
Our LORD Jesus told a parable specifically that we should pray and never give up (Luke 18:1-8).
Paul said, “night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers” (2 Timothy 1:3, NIV). How often is “constantly”? It does not mean that Paul prayed for Timothy whenever he thought about it. It means Paul specifically brought Timothy to mind on a regular basis and when he did, he prayed for Timothy. Paul also wrote the Ephesian church a command along these lines:
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18, NIV).
What should you pray about when you remember your brothers and sisters in Christ? Give thanks to God for saving them and bringing them into His church and into your life. Always be thankful for them. They are not perfect, but neither are you.
It’s like what Steve Brown told one of the congregations he pastored. One Sunday he got up to speak and said, “If you really knew me, you wouldn’t want me to be your pastor.” The whole congregation started murmuring. They wondered what sinful revelation the pastor was about to spring on them. So he continued, “But then again, if I really knew you, I wouldn’t want you for a congregation!”
Our thanks are based on God’s decision to bring them into His kingdom. Paul constantly gave thanks for them noting that in so doing he thanked “God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience” (2 Timothy 1:3, NIV). His conscience was clear because of his earnest prayer for a dear brother.
Is your conscience clear? A guilty conscience will rob you of passion quicker than anything else. Confess your guilty conscience in this matter and begin again with the LORD.
The more you get involved in grateful praying for your brothers and sisters in Christ, the more passion you will have for Christ and His church.
2. Longing for Fellowship versus Longing for Solitude.
4Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy... (2 Timothy 1:4, NIV)
Paul yearned deep in his heart to see Timothy again. He longed for the fellowship that brings joy.
There is a special joy when brothers and sisters in Christ gather together for fellowship. There is common bond we have that creates that joy:
3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:3-4, NIV)
There are seven of these bonds of “one” for us. Seven is a number often used in the Bible to indicate perfection or completeness. Whenever we gather together as believers, we have all seven of these bonds to make us one. No matter who you are or where you are, you are one with those who are believers in Christ.
I had the great blessing of preaching in a Chinese Church for several years. I had lunch with a group of them one day. Neither of us understood a word the other was saying. But we knew who we stood for and together we stood with Him. We always have that common bond that brings joy – even without meaningful communication.
Why is there such joy in this common bond?
Do you long for times of fellowship with your brothers and sisters? Paul remembered Timothy’s pain at their parting, “Recalling your tears…” (v4).
You see, the joy of fellowship will fuel your passion.
It is an old cliché but a good point: two logs together burn hotter. Do not prioritize out your time for fellowship. If all you long for is solitude, your passion will diminish.
Passion for Christ will be enhanced when you make time for fellowship.
3. Working Your Gifts versus Working at Nothing.
5I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 6For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. (2 Timothy 1:5-6, NIV)
Because of Timothy’s “sincere faith,” Paul exhorted him to “fan into flame the gift of God.”
It is the Holy Spirit who conveys spiritual gifts as He pleases to people in the body of Christ. The Bible says, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7, NIV).
So the issue for you is not whether or not you are gifted – you have a spiritual gift or gifts. If your faith is sincere, then you must exercise that gift. Using the example of the burning logs, what happens to the log that is taken out of the fire? The heat dies down and the fire gradually goes out.
Fan into flame the spiritual gifts God has given you. This is what stokes the fire of your passion.
How do we “fan into flame” our spiritual gifts? It is really very simple – get to work.
A man once criticized D.L. Moody for his evangelistic approach in revival meetings. “Sir,” said Moody, “how do you share the gospel of Jesus Christ?” “I do not,” said the man. “Then,” said Moody, “I like my way of sharing the gospel better than your way of not sharing it!”
God has great plans for you and the gifts He has graciously bestowed on you in Christ. Ephesians 2:10 says that He planned before you were even born the good works He wants you to do.
Many of us are like “retired” Christians – just waiting to go home, uninvolved, uncaring, unmotivated. Some will say, “I can’t start because I don’t have a passion. Once I have passion, I will dig in and work hard.”
This is nonsense! Start now and you will find your passion. You will never regain your passion by not starting. You will always dream and wonder but never know what God could have done in you and through you.
Get to work and find your passion!
4. Moving With the Spirit versus Motionless Fear.
Your passion will ride on the wind of the Holy Spirit. He is your “Comforter” (John 14:16) to be sure.
But the Holy Spirit is also your fire!
It was John the Baptist preached about Jesus:
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (Luke 3:16, NIV)
And the Holy Spirit is your power!
13When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left [Jesus] until an opportune time. 14Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. (Luke 4:13-15, NIV).
Timothy must have been retreating a bit in his faith. Perhaps the opposition had worn him down and he had withdrawn. Perhaps the challenges and difficulties of ministry had worn him out and he was tired. Whatever the cause, Timothy had become timid – dreaded certain things, fearful, and by implication - faithless. That is what the word “timidity” really means – faithless.
God did not give us faithlessness but commanded us to live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; 2 Corinthians 5:7). When we live by the resources God gives us, we have:
So in what spiritual transportation did you ride in this morning? Are you on a spiritual “mule” or walking on foot? Or are you riding on the mighty gale force wind of the Holy Spirit? Will your passion be found in your own resources or in the unquenchable resources of God: power, love, and self-discipline?
5. Suffering With Faith versus Suffering With Shame.
8So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9who has saved us and called us to a holy life--not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. (2 Timothy 1:8-12, NIV)
Paul was in a Roman prison, suffering for the kingdom of God. But why was Paul suffering? I mean, was not Paul doing the LORD’s work, being faithful in his calling? Yes Paul was faithful. In fact, the suffering was specifically because of his calling – and it is our calling as well.
11And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12That is why I am suffering as I am. (2 Timothy 1:11-12, NIV)
Whatever suffering he endured, Paul was suffering with faith. His call was to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ – the good news that:
This gospel, this good news, was politically incorrect in his day. Hmmm, I am not sure things have changed that much for us today?
So are you ashamed to tell people this good news? Do you draw back in fear? Do you leave this work to others? If you do, you are suffering – but not for Christ. You are suffering with shame! Paul was suffering with faith. But any believer who will not share the gospel with others is suffering with shame. You can share the gospel – remember the resources of the Holy Spirit you have (2 Timothy 1:7).
Remember the great commission we looked at briefly last week … Jesus said to His disciples – all of them:
18 All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations… (Matthew 28:18-19, NIV).
That does not leave any wiggle room for anyone. Every believer in Christ has this command. No “if,” “but,” or “maybe” is to be found in this command. Just a “therefore go!” So go and perhaps suffer but suffer with faith as did Paul saying:
Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day. (2 Timothy 1:12, NIV)
Your passion will rise or fall on your witness for Christ. No witness, no passion. Witness, and you will have passion. Witnessing for Christ puts fire in your soul and emboldens you for more and greater work.
6. Guarding the Gospel versus Going Along With Others.
13What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you--guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. (2 Timothy 1:13-14, NIV)
The good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ must be guarded in your soul. Every one of the enemies of God – your three enemies in Christ – desire to corrupt this gospel. Who are your enemies?
This is why the Bible urges us to “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:14, NIV). This word “Guard” is from a Greek word carrying the idea of isolation – to watch on your own. The point is that YOU must take responsibility for guarding the integrity of the gospel you have learned from God’s word.
Your enemies want to change it:
Watch out for any area of compromise in your life. In particular, let not your love for others grow cold. We are to hold fast to the sound doctrine we have been taught “with faith and love in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13, NIV). One way we compromise frequently is to learn a whole bunch but never act on that with faith – meaning with conviction – and with love – the outward expression to others of Christ’s love for you.
Passion cannot be maintained when compromise enters in. It is like trying to fill up a bucket with a hole in the bottom. You pour more in but it just pours right out the bottom. Don’t go along with the crowd but guard the precious gospel of our LORD Jesus to keep your passion glowing.
7. Running with Mercy versus Running with Shame.
Onesiphorus (On e SIPH’ o rus) was running hard to bring mercy to Paul. He helped him in Ephesus and he helped him in Rome. He “searched hard for me until he found me” (v17). The passion of Onesiphorus was a single-minded mission to find Paul and give him a healing touch from the LORD.
“…he often refreshed me” (v16) – no doubt washing the wounds of Paul and bringing him food and drink.
“…and was not ashamed of my chains” (v16) – Onesiphorus did not despise Paul for being in prison. Nor did he let the discomfort of the prison keep him from showing mercy to Paul, who desperately needed it. Rather, Onesiphorus ran to him, “searched hard … until he found me” (v17).
Everyone else had deserted Paul. They were running with shame. Onesiphorus was running with mercy. They had no passion. Onesiphorus had passion.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7, NIV).
Passion happens when you rise above your level of discomfort to reach out to others. Maybe you do not want to bring food to a sick person and so you make excuses. Maybe you are afraid for others to hear if you speak to a coworker or acquaintance in public about spiritual matters so you just stay silent.
Stop quenching your passion and have mercy! Thank God He showed mercy to us. Jesus left everything -- all the comfort of eternity -- to step into time and live as a mere human being. He rose above that supreme discomfort because He has passion for you!
The moment you begin showing mercy is the moment your passion will light up.
The church of Jesus Christ needs passion not passivity in order to accomplish its mission. This means that every believer in the LORD Jesus Christ must develop a passionate faith.
The Greeks had a race in their Olympic games that was unique. The winner was not the runner who finished first. It was the runner who finished with his torch still lit.
May you and I run this race with great passion, torches turned up high, and glowing with the fire of the Holy Spirit, until we cross over Jordan into the fire of His presence!
 Accessed April 16, 2004. http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/p/passion.htm
 Stowell, Joseph. Fan The Flame. Moody. 1986. p. 32.
© Copyright 2004, Randy Lariscy.