This coming Sunday, I will be speaking on “Experiencing the Passion of Jesus. Wikipedia gives this definition of passion:
“Passion (from the Ancient Greek verb paskho meaning to suffer) is a term applied to a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion compelling feeling, enthusiasm, or desire for something. The term is also often applied to a lively or eager interest in or admiration for a proposal, cause, or activity or love - to a feeling of unusual excitement, enthusiasm or compelling emotion, a positive affinity or love, towards a subject.”
Today there is a great desire by Christians for passion--intense enthusiasm and desire--in their leaders, churches, and fellow Christians. Passion is a sign of authenticity to many people, especially amongst younger generations. (In fact, there is a nation wide worship weekend held each year in Atlanta called the “Passion Conference” which is only for 18-24 year olds!) Life is so full that people want and need people to inspire them to greater Christlikeness, and a passionate follower of Christ is notable and breaks through the clutter. They want passionate worship that invokes enthusiasm and strong emotion. They want to see a life worth living.
Wikipedia also says that “Stoics like Epitectus emphasised that 'the most important and especially pressing field of study is that which has to do with the stronger emotions...sorrows, lamentations, envies...passions which make it impossible for us even to listen to reason.” Thus, a significant strain of Greek thought saw passion as being at odds with reason. And, our fellowship as well as others have been influenced by the scientific worldview, which also held up reason above all else. Jesus, however, said to love the Lord your God with all of your being (Mt. 22:37-40).
In Christian circles, “Passion” is also used to refer to the intense suffering that Jesus experienced prior to and upon his death. This suffering was indeed “intense,” and Christ’s suffering and death for us is an essential part of our redemption. Peter says, “’He himself bore our sins. in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed’” (1 Peter 2:24).
How can we experience the passionate life of Jesus, and how does this relate to Christ’s suffering and death? In your experience, are we losing young people due to a lack of passion and/or lack of appeal to enthusiasm/emotion?