Passion-Driven Disciples

Passion, what is passion? Well when the Biblical writer's speak of passion they typically speak of passion from a sexual point of view, meaning lust or sex drive. When Christians speak of passion it often times is in reference to the suffering and death Jesus experienced on the cross.

But today, when I speak of passion, I speak of passion as it relates to our excitement, that fire in our belly, that strong desire to make the saving grace of Jesus Christ known to others. So the question I pose today is, are we passion-driven disciples?

In our reading from Titus this morning, a book of the Bible seldom referred to, we hear of a people who were once foolish, disobedient, deceiving, enslaved by all sorts of sin. But once they came to know Christ and became passionate about following the teachings of Jesus, they changed and became free from the pressures of this world, preferring instead to live the good life in peaceful obedience to God's word.

Also, in our reading from Titus, Paul in a couple of verses summarizes very well what Christ does for us when he saves us. We move from a life full of sin, to one where God's Holy Spirit leads us. All our sins, not just some, but all of our sins are washed away. When we acknowledge Christ as Lord and recognize Christ's saving work, we gain eternal life with all its rewards. And throughout our life we are continually renewed by the Holy Spirit, which is a gift from God to us, not earned, but freely given to us from God.

Isn't this truth enough to get you passionate about following Christ, what more do we need?

Now in our reading from Acts were told of Apollo's who went to Ephesus to preach the word. He was a bold preacher, one of influence and respect. He was passionate about his beliefs, but yet he still had much to learn about Christ. So Priscilla and Aquila invited Apollo's to their home to offer to teach him so he may gain a deeper understanding of Christ.

And, oh by the way, Priscilla and Aquila are women. Two women of God educated Apollo's so that he might be a more effective witness. This is a big deal given the patriarchal society of that time, a point we often time miss.

This story is also a story of what happens today when folks become so convicted by the word of God that they want to go and tell others. Yet even though they may be influential and wonderful presenters of the Gospel, they still need a deeper and more full understanding of Jesus Christ, or they will cease to grow and eventually their fire for Christ will eventually become just a simmering ember. This is where Sunday School and Bible Study plays an important role in developing passion-driven disciples. Passion-driven disciples are those who yearn to learn more about God.

Let me ask you, are we a passionate church or are we a lukewarm church? The following is a list of hymns you might find in a lukewarm church. These hymn titles come courtesy of Faith Baptist's church newsletter. See if you recognize any. " Here They Are Lord " Sit Up, Sit Up for Jesus " Take My Life and Let Me Be " Where He Leads Me I will Consider Following " Oh, How I Like Jesus " Pillow of Ages, Fluffed For Me " Blest Be the Tie That Doesn't Cramp My Style " I Surrender Some

The Bethany Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas was taken to court by one of the church's deacons. This man had a herniated disc and blamed the church for his problem. You see he claimed his back injury occurred when he was assisting a fellow church member who became "overly excited during the sermon." I think many churches would welcome a lawsuit like that. Nothing like passion to get people excited and enthusiastic about being in the presence of the Lord.

But the sad truth is many churches are lukewarm, they're not on fire for Christ, and therefore are not passionate about being disciples of Jesus. The ultimate goal of our congregation ought to be to make a positive difference for Jesus sake in the community to which God has placed us, but in order to make this goal a reality we have to be passionate about what we believe and why we believe it.

So why passion, where does passion fit in to the overall scheme of things. Several weeks ago I spoke about Call and vision. Call means to follow God wherever he leads us, and vision is where we are going, based on God's revelation to us.

Well the drive and energy to respond to God's call and to seek the vision God has laid on our hearts is called passion. Passion is the life force that says, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead." Passion is the fuel that keeps the fire burning, even when it seems cold and dark. Passion is the Holy Spirit working in our lives, compelling us to remain faithful to God's word.

So what creates passion, this energy or life force? Passion is created by a strong desire to share the good news with others and to share in the pain and suffering of others, to the point of becoming moved to action, and stirred by love to the very core of our being. Passion is also created by the desire to introduce others to the love and care we share with one another in this congregation. It's not something that can be explained, rather it's something to experience, to be a part of.

A church rich with passion-driven disciples will change the world, and bring joy into the life of each individual who encounters such a place.

As passion-driven disciples, as a passion-driven church, we ought to have an open mind when it comes to listening and learning about what God is trying to teach us through others, just as Apollo's was open to the teaching and wisdom of Pricilla and Aquila.

We ought to have open hearts as we reach out to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless, and care for the basic needs of people around the world.

And we ought to have an open door to this church, where everyone is welcome to enter and experience the unconditional love of God through Jesus Christ. In other words passion-driven disciples and a passion-driven church have open minds, open hearts, and open doors. So how do people find their passion, how do we find our passion? Well the question we need to ask ourselves is, what excites us? When folks look deep within themselves they will usually find something that excites them about life, or something they find great joy in doing. And when you find it you've found your passion.

I'm convinced that whatever your passion is, God placed it in your heart. So if our passion is of God, the issue becomes how can our passion be used in ministry. Some of you have a passion for fishing or hunting, so using this passion as an example, how can fishing and hunting be used in ministry?

Kent Millard tells a story about a man who had a passion for fishing and wanted to somehow marry his passion with ministry. Well at this man's church there's a group for single mothers, so he got this idea that perhaps he could teach the children of these mothers how to fish. So the man created a ministry that he quickly became passionate about, teaching kids how to fish. He took something he was passionate about and figured out how he could use his gift in ministry to others.

If you have a passion for something and your not sure how it fits into ministry, please come see me, and together we will determine the ministry that you in turn can become passionate about. John Wesley in his commentary on our scripture reading from Acts says, "Every talent may be of use in the kingdom of God, if joined with knowledge of the scriptures and fervor of spirit."

Once again I believe God has placed a passion for ministry in the heart and soul of every person, and that includes each and every one of us here today. And one role of the church is to help people discover that passion, encourage it, and fan it into a blazing fire.

But one caution, in our enthusiasm know that passion-driven disciples don't simply invite people to church, they invite people to the presence of God, and a relationship with Jesus Christ. And in our passion for Christ we must remember that we are to bring people to Jesus, not stand in Jesus' place.

I believe, with all my being, that God will use our passion to not only bring fulfillment to our lives, but also to transform the community and the world. What's your passion?


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