By Rich Leatherberry, Mission Pastor
On February 1, I preached on a topic that has become increasingly important to me. Two years ago I took an extended study leave from BelPres to learn about revival. I studied how past revivals started and looked at factors which sustained them. I met and talked with some fascinating leaders working for revival. I learned a lot. But the most significant part of my study leave was that it revived me. I came away with a hunger which I can only describe as “wanting more of Jesus.”
Sunday’s message was about making Jesus our greatest passion. Making Jesus our greatest passion is the most important growth lesson in this sermon series we are going through. It is the catalyst for everything. When Jesus becomes our greatest passion, three things happen. First, we want more of Him. Second, we will do whatever it takes to get rid of anything that stands in the way of that. Third, we begin living missionally because our passion for other people grows too.
There are a lot of things you don’t hear on Sundays because there isn’t enough time in a sermon to say it. So it gets edited out of the message. I thought I’d share two paragraphs that didn’t make it into Sunday’s message and see what you think.
We don’t loose our passion for Jesus, we leave it.
There are times when our passion for Jesus fades and He doesn’t matter to us as much. Our Christian faith becomes tame and predictable and slips to the margins of what we care about.
Scripture is filled with the stories of people who lost their passion and turned away. Moses, David, and Peter to name a few. But what’s so interesting about their stories, beyond the fact that they help us see how common our struggle is, is that none of them lost their passion for Jesus….they left it. One day at a time, one decision at a time, one action at a time. They made choices and acted out in ways that turned them away and caused them to leave the relationship.
But Jesus never turns away from us and He never leaves us. In the Book of Revelation the Spirit speaks to the church in Ephesus and the Spirit accuses the church of leaving their first love. The cure for that is to repent, and do the things they did when they first knew Jesus. That is our cure too. To repent. To turn around from where we are going and come back to Him. To get rid of the habits, distractions, behaviors and anything else that blocks Jesus out of our lives. James says; “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
“What matters most in our lives becomes our greatest passion. We give ourselves to that. For some of us its our kids, or our profession or our school, or music or the arts. Any of those things can make us happy and they can be very satisfying. But they can also discourage us and leave us feeling empty. Our kids can say or do things that hurt us. We can lose or hate our job. We can burn out in school.
Jobs, kids, school and the arts are all good. But they don’t satisfy and fulfill us like Jesus. Jesus never disappoints, never hurts and He never goes away and leaves us alone. When Jesus becomes our greatest passion then everything else falls into place. Jesus becomes our deepest satisfaction and experiencing more of Him becomes our great desire. That gives us a missional focus to everything. It changes the way we view other people and our role as parents, employees, employers, and students. In fact, it changes every other area of our lives.”
Let me leave you with a couple of questions:
1) How does a great passion for Jesus affect your relationships, the way you use your time and the things you are involved in?
2) What will it take to experience more of Jesus in your life?
I’d love to hear your comments or help you with questions.