A Fanatic

Jim Elliott, a Christian missionary of the 1950’s who was martyred in Ecuador by native Americans he was trying to reach, authored a quote that I have loved for all of my adult life: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”  Elliott, who died at just age 32, lived with a passion for the work of God.  All other things in his life; success, accomplishment, wealth, family – were secondary to his love for Christ Jesus!

What’s your passion? I know people who are just plain over the top about sports. They love football, or gym workout, their job, or 5K runs.  I am not talking about the armchair fans. I’m talking about the people who get out there and compete, who push their bodies to the limits!   I know people who love their music. You get them talking about their classical collection and they  will give you an education. Some are passionate about their pets, others about their politics.  Whatever it is, passionate people will not stop talking about that ‘thing’ that makes them get up in the morning. 

I truly admire passionate people even as I question their sanity sometimes!  The downside of that kind of commitment is that it will consume the person, making it hard for others to ‘fit’ into their lives.  They are convinced that everybody should know and love what they love which can make living with that person a terribly difficult thing to do.  The opposite of passion is apathy – that bored sigh – “Whatever.”  Jaded or disappointed, those without enthusiasm refuse to get engaged because they have “Been there, done that.”  That kind of existence is, at least in my opinion, terribly said.

I am passionate about people experiencing the LOVE of GOD. 

More than anything else in the world I pray this, live for this, and desire this to happen in me and through my life.  Paul prays for others “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19, NIV)  When we come to know God’s love, accepting it as a gift of grace, by faith – only then do we begin to live fully. I love Christ’s Body, the Church, but my passion is not about bringing people just into a church.  I am not really interested in getting others to adopt my cultural expressions of Christianity.  I want them to know Jesus … really to know Him… His love which indeed enables us to be overflowing with God’s best in life.

This is truth –  “Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him.” (Philippians 3:8-9, NLT)  We can love Jesus with passionate commitment and He is worth it! 

If you have made it this far in today’s thought and wonder if Jerry likes ‘religious fanatics,’ think again.  I am as passionate about my dislike of religious fanaticism as I am passionate about people knowing and experiencing the love of Christ.  Being a humorless, socially odd, judgmental, narrow-minded, bigoted person is a caricature of Christianity that has nothing to do with passionate love for Jesus.  In fact, knowing His love is the most liberating experience that a person can have. 

Loved, we become loving.
Loved, we are free of slavery to sin. 
Loved, we know purpose. Loved, we find peace and contentment. Loved, we are filled with hope.

It is a terrible tragedy when the real life of Christ gets wrapped around rules about food, drink, dress, and ‘holy days.’  The Scripture says as much, though this passage is often ignored. “Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 2:20-3:1, NIV)  

“Set your heart” is just another way to say “Be passionate about …”   And what does the Lord invite us to love whole-heartedly? Himself, not the religious rules written by others who wish to control us.

Ah, friend, I pray you will become a person of passion about Jesus. I pray He will fill up your thoughts, own your heart and mind, and bring you to the “abundant life” that He offers.

Here is a word from the Word. “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:16-18, NIV)

________

Father, I am so thankful that you loved me
when I cared nothing for You.

Win my heart again and again,
for there are other ‘loves’ that catch my eye from time to time.

Draw my heart to Yours,
my affections going beyond words and romanticism.

Give me ‘one pure and holy passion’ to know You,
to serve You, and to enjoy Your Presence eternally.

In Jesus’ Name. Amen

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