I took my granddaughter to a park last week to play and enjoy the fresh, springtime air. On our way there, I stopped at a small fruit and vegetable stand near where we live and I was able to purchase some freshly picked strawberries. For me, being able to enjoy fresh fruit and veggies is something akin to finding an amazing treasure – I felt rich and very blessed to have these sweet gems to enjoy!
As I was sitting on the park bench watching Eugenie play, I noticed someone walking towards me—a homeless man who made his bedroom in a gazebo nearby. He offered me a candy bar to share with my granddaughter, saying that he had just purchased it. I felt uncomfortable taking it because I didn’t want to take something from him that may have cost him much, yet I didn’t want to insult him by refusing it, either. So, I took it.
As we were leaving the park a little later I considered giving him a basket of strawberries. I had an internal conversation with myself about not wanting to insult him—debating the pros and cons of giving him the berries and ending up driving away with all my berries still in the back of the car.
I do that a lot—disrupt the passion of kindness with my own logic. Yet before the wise man wrote, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes…” (Proverbs 3:5-7a), he wrote, “Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart” (v. 3).
Most often, I forget the extravagant kindness, steadfast love, and faithfulness of God towards me, which makes it difficult to express His amazing grace to others.
Passion (a powerful or compelling emotion; an extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire) Week is all about God’s love towards us, His fallen, broken creation. “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7). And in the next verse, Paul goes on to counsel Titus, “The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people” (v. 8).
Paul wrote this to the church at Ephesus: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7).
Besides Jesus’ betrayal, torture, and crucifixion that week, [Could He have done anything else with such far-reaching, eternal consequences?] His cleansing of the temple demonstrates His intense passion in opposing the perversion of religion by mankind.
“And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, ‘It is written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer,” but you make it a den of robbers.’ And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ they were indignant…” (Matthew 21:12-15).
Jesus evokes passion in those who love Him…and in those who hate Him!
And nothing can waylay our passion for Jesus like human-defined religion or the concerns and attractions of this world!
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority” (Colossians 2:6-10).
And… “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4).
I go to church and worship Jesus with intensity. And then I leave and the passion of Sunday morning slips away into the responsibilities and routine of life. I’m not sure I can replicate the fervency of church worship time, yet I know each day I have the choice to fix my attention on Jesus, “the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). …understanding that passion without emotion is the commitment to keep Jesus at the center of my life, serving Him with abandon and with thanksgiving, rejoicing in the knowledge that He is faithful—and even in those times when my eyes slip away, His Spirit draws me back into intimacy with my Savior.