March 2014 Newsletter
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Passion is Messy

Passion is messy.  Feelings get blurted out or lived out before considering all of the consequences or effects, status quo gets challenged, politically incorrect things are done and said, truth spoken cuts deep and hurts, routines are disrupted, hearts get broken and relationships are threatened.  For some, the answer to this messiness is a dispassionate, soulless Christianity that focuses on a fanatical adherence to a code of behavior and a prescribed system of judgment.  Live by the rules, worship by the rules, serve by the rules and judge by the rules. 
This brings up an old question, what would Jesus do?  He healed on the Sabbath, he talked to prostitutes and tax collectors, he called the religious leaders snakes, he drove out the greedy temple merchants with a whip and the last week of his life is often referred to as Passion Week.  Not only that but when he boiled his teaching down to a 30 second sound byte he said, “Love God with everything you’ve got and love your neighbor as yourself” and he proclaimed that the whole reason for his appearance on earth was to bring “life to the fullest”. 
We were created with a deep passion for life.  However, cut off from the source of life in God, our passion becomes “ugly and destructive through our addictive, exploitive, narcissistic choices.  Unbridled lust for power, status, acceptance, and sex distorts passion.  So does spiritual pride, intolerance and a condemning spirit.”[1]  As we become rooted in God through the complete forgiveness of our sin and allow the deeper desire for intimacy with Him to curb our flesh, an inner craving develops for experiences of loving and being loved and for excitement and adventure.
This however, creates a dilemma for the believer.  If I let passion arise in me, I risk the expression of passion through my flesh in sinful and selfish ways.  The tendency is to attempt to experience God in the confines of a religious system that dictates rules and judgments.  This often keeps us from giving in to the evil passions of our flesh but also shuts down our deeper passion for love and intimacy with God.  This deeper passion sometimes emerges in dark ways that are kept hidden and secret (pornography, sexual fantasy, greed, materialism, addiction, etc., ) and eat away at the foundation of our relationship with God leaving us double-minded and unstable (James 1:8).  While this certainly looks orderly and consistent on the outside, it is filled with messiness on the inside.
Allowing passion to rise through our connection with God will, on the other hand, be messy on the outside but settled on the inside.  As I embrace life passionately, I sometimes experience that deep love and intimacy and the excitement of the grand adventure but sometimes I experience a shallow life of catering to my own ego and desire.  In spite of this outward roller coaster, my inner man is at peace, fully resting in the grace and love of God which cover a multitude of sins (I Peter 4:8).  The reality of this inner peace promotes more intimacy with God and brings into check my selfish flesh.  This is transformation, this is discipleship, this is life to the fullest. 
[1] Imbach, Jeff,  The River Within, (Colorado Springs, Colorado: NavPress, 1998), p. 23.
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