What is your passion? I am not asking you what do you like. I am not asking you what gives you a high. I am not asking you what you do anytime you are allowed to indulge yourself. I am asking you, "What is your passion?"

The question I ask has to do with a cause or an injustice that deeply moves you. You are so deeply touched by this cause or injustice that it is your number one priority in life. Any time you must choose between your passion and anything else, you always choose your passion. Absolutely nothing is as important as your passion.

Let me share some examples. Some people's passion is a political cause. They will do anything legal for their political cause. Some people's passion is community service. They will endure great personal inconvenience for the sake of community service. Often suffering produces a passion. A parent whose child was killed by a drunk driver opposes drinking and driving with a passion. A spouse whose husband or wife suffered some horrible injustice opposes such injustices passionately.

You can observe this type of passion all around you. Look for anyone who totally devoted to a cause or a "rights" movement. Such people have an obvious passion.

Three questions: do you have a passion? Does God have a passion? Does your passion and God's passion "hold hands?"

  1. "Allow me to answer your questions."
    1. Different ones of us would answer in different ways regarding our personal passion.
      1. Some would say, "I do not have one. I have never been into causes.
      2. Some would say, "I probably have a passion, but I have never thought about it much--I would have to think about it."
      3. Some would say, "I surely do have a passion! I can tell you exactly what it is!"
    2. If we discussed God's passion, we would have differing answers.
      1. First, we could generate an interesting discussion about the possibility of God having a passion.
        1. Most of us tend to think of God as being dispassionate.
        2. Some of us tend to think of God as being "feelingless"--everything with Him is intellectual and never emotional.
        3. Many of us realize God deeply desires some things, but we never thought of God's desires being causes.
      2. Second, if we agreed God has passionate causes, we likely would disagree about His number one cause.
        1. Knowing our thinking and priorities, we likely would intensely disagree about God's number one priority.
        2. I have my doubts that we would agree on God's number one cause.

  2. I want you to think, and I wish to issue the challenge in this way.
    1. Have you ever felt so moved, so committed, so passionate about anything that it was your number one priority in life for at least a decade?
      1. God has, and it was His number one priority for several thousand years.
        1. It became His number one priority the moment evil perverted His good creation.
        2. It became His number one priority the moment that evil distorted human beings into something God never intended.
          Galatians 4:4,5 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
          1 Timothy 2:3-6 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.
      2. God labored for a few thousand years to give the people a Savior who could offer them perfect forgiveness.
    2. Have you ever felt so moved, so committed, so passionate about your number one priority that you made an enormous sacrifice to benefit your consuming cause?
      1. God has; He was so committed to His consuming cause that he sacrificed His son.
        1. Sometimes people adopt a cause because they suffered the loss of a child.
        2. God sacrificed for His cause knowing that it would cost the life of His only son.
          1 John 4:9,10 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
      2. God knew the ultimate cost of His commitment when He devoted Himself to the cause.
        1. "On the front end" God knew what it would cost.
        2. He knew His commitment would mean the death of His only son, a son who was totally devoted to His will, a son who would depend on Him absolutely.

  3. What is God's passion? What is His number one priority? What is His ultimate commitment?
    1. God wants to forgive people.
      Romans 5:6-8 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
    2. God's desire to forgive people is greater than any desire or commitment you or I have ever had.
      1. "David, that is just your speculation, maybe your exaggeration."
      2. No, according to the New Testament, that is fact.
    3. Do you think you could describe the kind of person God would and would not forgive?
      1. Let me describe a person to you.
        1. This person was extremely religious, absolutely committed, zealously devoted, and would kill other people to advance his convictions.
        2. Because of his religious commitment, he was part of a killing machine responsible for the imprisonment and death of many Christians.
        3. He was so committed to destroying these people he thought opposed God that he made a house-to-house search in a major city to arrest those people.
        4. He was willing even to travel to other countries to arrest people who were of his nationality but believed heresy.
        5. He even went into buildings devoted to worship to physically abuse Christians in a determined effort to get them to renounce the heresy.
        6. He tried to destroy the very situation God spent several thousand years bringing into existence.
        7. Did God's desire to forgive include a person like this?
      2. To make certain that you understand that I am not speculating, read these scriptures with me.
        Acts 8:1-3 And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him. But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.
        Acts 26:9-11 So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them. And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities.
    4. God not only wanted to forgive this man, He did forgive him, and made him the greatest missionary we have ever known; and allowed him to be the author of many of the New Testament writings.
      1. Why would God do that?
      2. Let him answer your question.
        1 Timothy 1:12,13,15,16 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; ... It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.

Paul did not know what he was doing; then God got his attention. God showed the scholar just how ignorant he was. God showed the man who believed enough to kill for God that his faith was in himself, not in God.

God wants to forgive you, and He will if you will let Him.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 4 November 2001

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