“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God,” wrote the sons of Korah in Psalms 42. They had a passion for God. In verse 2 they told us their soul thirsted for the living God. It's a beautiful word picture. When you are really thirsty, all you can think about is a refreshing drink of water. Nothing else natters. The psalmists had that kind of desire for God. It reflected a desperate need for the One for Whom they were passionate.
At the end of chapter 9 in his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul's passion for the Lord Jesus overflowed as he wrote, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” And Jude wrote, “To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever.” In the midst of his suffering, Job exclaimed, “For I know that my Redeemer lives and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” These men, as well as many others throughout Scripture had a passion for the Lord.
I fear we have lost our passion for the Lord. We want His blessings. We want His protection. We want Him to give us health and wealth, but I wonder, are we really passionate for Him? In Zechariah 7, the prophet recorded, “Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying, 'Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: “When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me—for Me? When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat and drink for yourselves?”'”
We love to go to church, but is it because we love the Lord or is it because we love the music, the fellowship, the charismatic speaker, the food, or times to play and have fun? When we are away from church, how is our behavior? Are we faithful to read the Bible, to pray, and to obey Him?
God is not impressed with our love for church without a zeal for Him. Isaiah quotes God, “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me? I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats. When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand, to trample My courts? Bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies – I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; they are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.” This people had no passion for God, but for the things of the world.
John tells us that we should not love the world or the things in it. Peter wrote, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?”
We should have a personal passion for the Lord in our daily lives that carries over into our corporate worship time. That's what happened in the beginning days of the church. They didn't care about worldly things. Many of them sold what they had and gave to those in need. And that passion for the Lord was reflected in their actions to one another, to God, and in church growth. Luke noted, “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
The writer of Hebrews instructs us, “do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” If we as individuals remain passionate about the Lord, then our ministers, priests and pastors will have joy and not grief.
Of course, there is the scary thought. What happens if your pastor, priest, or minister doesn't have a passion for Christ? What if their passion for sports, food, entertainment, materialism, money, sex, praise, building programs, leisure, social media, technology, or bragging rights is greater than their passion for the Lord? Chances are your church will languish. Of all the things you should pray for your church leadership, perhaps the best prayer would be that they have a passion for the Lord. If they do, everything else will fall into place.