by Dr. Richard Blackaby
I don’t believe God designed people to be indifferent. In fact, I have strong feelings on the subject! God created us to be passionate about what we do and believe. Life is an adventure, not a sentence! We should live enthusiastically. In the first chapter of the Bible, God repeatedly recognizes that His creation is “good” (Gen. 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25). On the sixth day, God saw His completed creation was “very good indeed” (Gen. 1:31). Clearly, God is not indifferent to His creation, and we shouldn’t be either.
In today’s polarized political climate, “passion” is in vogue. Disagreeing with a political view is not enough; opposing parties feel they must be angrily opposed. Politicians are angry, tearful, or outraged by almost everything their opponents do or say. People cannot merely disagree with rivals; they must despise them. The media, of course, delights in this division and fans the flames with each interview. Apparently, an angry nation is great for ratings. If you are somehow unaware of how passionately people feel about politics today, just walk into a public waiting area or board an airplane and loudly proclaim your love and allegiance to one of America’s two major political parties! Not only will you invite angry rebuttals from total strangers but you may get thrown off the plane (perhaps while still in flight).
God’s people can be swept up into the same mindset. Christians passionately debate politics, sports, economics, or the latest movie with the fervency of a TV series trial lawyer. I have known churches that suffered a serious decline in attendance and worshipful enthusiasm because the local college team lost the day before. At times, such behavior seems ludicrous. The cross is empty, the tomb has been vacated, and Christ is on His throne and coming soon, yet church members have no enthusiasm for worship because their sports team lost!
Other congregations have experienced angry division over whether the renovated church auditorium should have blue or green carpet. Or whether the announcements should be at the beginning or the end of the service. Or whether the annual Christmas program should be altered. Church members flood into business meetings to debate whether the Sunday evening service should be cancelled on Superbowl Sunday, yet meetings are rarely called when the congregation has failed to reach anyone in the surrounding neighborhood for Christ that year, baptisms are at an all-time low, or the youth are leaving the church in droves. Sadly, we often funnel our passion in the wrong direction.
King David’s passion is well known. It sometimes got him in trouble. He was so enthused that the ark of the covenant was being brought into Jerusalem that he fervently danced before the Lord and the people (2 Sam. 6:16). David’s wife Michal saw her husband worshipping God with abandon and despised him in her heart. In her mind, worshipping God called for decorum, not shameless enthusiasm. Michal’s attitude is prevalent in today’s church. Ironically, many people sit stoically in church during the singing, never opening their mouth and wearing a pained expression as if they were undergoing a root canal, yet they shout until they’re hoarse while watching a sporting event on TV. Someone who looks like a zombie during the worship service might become the Energizer Bunny while watching the game later that afternoon.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that cheering for our favorite teams is wrong. I have been following the same team, despite their lack of success, for more than forty years. But I hope I am more deeply moved when God’s kingdom suffers a setback than when my team loses a game. Hopefully I get more excited when people take a stand for Christ in baptism than when my favorite player scores a goal. Hopefully I am more enthusiastic when making a case for Christ with an unbeliever than when I argue politics with someone sitting beside me on a plane.
God did not create us to be apathetic. Scripture condemns people for being lukewarm (Rev. 3:16). But in an age when society angrily shouts at each other over passionately held opinions, my prayer is that God’s people would save their feelings for issues that truly matter. If a sporting event, political issue, or hobby gets you more worked up than the Person and work of God does, your passion is misplaced. Invest your enthusiasm in that which is eternal. I can assure you, no one standing before the throne in heaven will be wearing college jerseys! Their sole focus and joy will be the King who died for them and made them fellow heirs with Him forevermore.
What are you passionate about?