“PASSION FOR CHRIST”                                      By Pastor YAU

Revelation 2:1-7                                                        April 15, 2007

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   Passion, the movie: A few years back, a movie: The Passion of Christ, produced by Mel Gibson, was a huge hit. Before it was released, a huge promotion effort was engineered and millions of people, Christians and non-Christians alike, were eager to see the movie. Box offices across the country recorded historic records of any religious movie ever. While we were all impressed by the movie and its success both in dramatic art and money the producer and distributors made, the passion for the movie did not transfer into the passion of Christians for Christ. Soon after the heat wave of the movie was over, our passion for the Lord also faded.

2)   Passion, the church: That was exactly what had happened in the church at Ephesus. Soon after the first wave of fervency was over, the early Christians, represented by the church at Ephesus, the best church at the time, were found to be losing their steam for the Lord Jesus Christ. Through the pens of John the Apostle, Jesus pointed out their problems and promised to help them restore what they used to have: their passion or primary love for the Lord. Even though they continued to work hard, keeping their doctrinal integrity in tack, their hearts for Jesus had turned cold and their activities had become routine and mechanical. They still put on the “show”, but they had lost their passion.

 

WHY IS PASSION POWERFUL?

1)       Passion, its meaning: According to GREAT ENCYCLOPAEDIC DICTIONARY, (by Reader’s Digest) “passion” means “strong emotion and enthusiasm.” It is an emotional state or force that drives a person toward another person or the things he wants so much. “Passion” is neither good nor bad in itself. The object of “passion” determines its moral value. Passion is some kind of “love” but is much stronger than “love.” When you have a passion for something or someone, you have a strong attachment to that person or thing.

2)       Passion, the heart: When Prophet Samuel was sent to the home of Jesse to choose a king, God told him not to see people on the outside but the inside, the heart. When Jesus told John to warn the church at Ephesus, He did not blame them on their lack of works nor their wrong doctrines. He pointed out their problem was on the inside: they had lost their passion, the focus of their love. God doesn’t need us to do anything for Him. He doesn’t need us to give Him anything. He even doesn’t care how much we know about Him. The thing He cares so much is “How much we love Him.” (That’s why Jesus asked Peter 3 times ‘If he loves Him.’ In all the attributes of God, love is the greatest. That is why God demands we love Him with all our heart, our mind, our will and our might. (Deut. 6:5)

3)       Passion, the force: It is the “passion” God has for the souls of His children that caused Him to sent His son to the world. It is that same “passion” that motivated Jesus to carry the cross on which He was crucified. It is that passion He forgave those who put Him to death. It is that same passion that will bring Him back to take us home to be with Him. (John 14:3) It is that passion millions of the faithful gave their lives to keep their faith when facing persecution and death. It is that passion which calls countless people to give up their personal dreams and possibilities of their life to be missionaries, pastors, evangelists and gospel workers. It is that same passion that keeps hundreds of millions of God’s faithful disciples to give, serve, teach, witness, build and grow God’s churches around the world in the past 2,000 years.

4)       Passion, the greatest: When Paul compared all the gifts given by the Holy Spirit to followers of Jesus with love (passion), he used a whole chapter to explain some expressions of that love. At the end of that chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, Paul listed 3 important parts of Christianity: faith, hope and love and he concluded that the most important of all is love (passion.) No one needs any explanation to understand the supreme position of love in Christian faith. John wrote that 3:16 in his Gospel which says: “For God so loved the world that He…” In his letters to the early Christians, he used a synonym of God and that synonym is “God is love.” (passion) (1 John 3-5, especially 4:8) Without love there is no gospel, no Jesus, no Bible, no church, no salvation, no heaven, no anything.

 

WAYS PASSION WAS LOST:

1)    Lost its intensity: Since passion or love is an emotional state, it can’t maintain the level of intensity forever. This is true in human love relationship and is also true in Christians to the Lord. No one can maintain an intense emotional state for an unlimited time. He will either lose the intensity and going downhill or suffer a nervous breakdown. Our love for the Lord should not rest only in emotional level. We need to grow in personal knowledge and service to demonstrate our love to the Lord. All emotions will fade sooner or later. Emotion alone is never strong enough to keep us going in our dedication and commitment. We need a “reason” for our life and the best reason is the purpose of God.

2)    Lost by replacement: Human passions as an emotion is subject to change according to attraction of objects. We see this clearly in children. No child can love a toy forever no matter how great his passion was to begin with. There are other toys and many of them are as attractive as the old one if not more. That is why we keep changing our clothes, cars, furniture and other things. Christians who don’t have a stronger commitment to the Lord will find other objects for their passion. We see some Christians lose interest in Bible study, worship, singing in the choir, etc. because they have found replacement objects for their passions.

3)    Lost in thorny grounds: In the parable of “The Sower”, (Matthew 13:3-8) Jesus told us there are four different kinds of soil on which seeds were sown. The seeds sown on grounds full of rocks and thorns will not grow but were choked to death before they can grow and bear fruits. This is true to many Christians who lost their love or passion for the Lord. They allow things of this world to take place in their hearts that choke their spiritual growth. Jesus gave us warning that “If a man loves this world, there is no room in his heart for love of the Father.”

4)    Lost in difficult times: In Matthew 24, Jesus gave warnings on the difficult days at the end time. He said, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most (Christians) will grow cold.” (24:12) Because Christian faith is never a promise of prosperity as some “good-time” preachers love to preach, difficult days, hardships and persecution could result in many cases the decrease of love for the Lord. In the days of Jesus, many of his followers left Him because they didn’t get what they came to follow Him for: the rise of Israel against the Roman occupation. (John 6:66) When people came to Jesus with their personal agenda, their love for the Lord will grow cold when they didn’t get what they came for. They didn’t have real love for the Lord to begin with.

 

RESTORE YOUR PASSION:

1)    Understanding God’s heart: The reason Jesus inspired John to write down things for the church in Ephesus was intended to restore their passion for the Lord. Jesus never wants to see our relationship with Him deteriorates. His love for us has never changed but ours for Him has. He wants us to come back to Him with full passion and love. Our problem is either we don’t realize we have lost our passion for Him or we do know but just don’t care. We need to understand the heart of God and that is the first step of the coming back.

2)    Knowing the causes: “Remember the height from which you have fallen” is the advice Jesus gave to the Ephesians church. He wants the church and the people to know where they once were and how had they fallen away from that passion they once had for the Lord. We all have our distractions, pitfalls and stumbling blocks that cause us to fall from placing our primary love on the Lord. Find out the reasons and remove them so you can come back to Him with full love. Jesus asked them to “repent and do what they did at first.” We need to feel sorry for our falling away and come to love Him the way we used to.

3)    Fearing the consequences: Most Christians who have fallen from giving their first love to the Lord may have ignored the warning of doing this. They may think it isn’t serious or doesn’t matter to their Christian life. But it is serious and will cause them a lot more. The Lord warns the church: “If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove the lamp stand from your place.” (2:5) Many have interpreted this as: losing the blessing of God, living in darkness, forfeiting the ability to bear fruits of life, becoming useless in the Kingdom of God, etc. We need to take God’s warning seriously.

4)    Focusing on victory: “He who has ears let him hear what the Spirit says to the church. To him who comes backing victory, I will give him the right to eat from the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.” (2:7) God never wants anyone to be a loser. He wants all of us to be victors and He promises to give us all the blessings He always wants to give us. He deserves our best love and He will give our His bless blessings to us if we follow Him.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   Give Him your best passion: Who else deserves that first love in your heart besides God? Noting in this world deserves that seat of honor but God who had died for you and has given you all His love. Remove anything and everything that may have blocked your love from giving God the best.

2)   Take a spiritual EKG: Check your heart to see if anything has taken place in your heart that may have blocked you from being productive and fruitful. Do you feel life is meaningless or aimless? God can help you regain control of your life. Get back with God and place Him first in your heart. You will see the difference.

3)   Accept God’s passion: God has great love for you and wants to make your life powerful, meaningful and productive. All you need to do is confess to Him your sins and ask Him to forgive you. He will restore all you always want to have and make you useful again. He will also give you eternal life and the joy of this life.