Loving Jesus Passionately
What was it that enabled the first three centuries of disciples of Jesus to conquer their world? What was it that caused many of them to sell themselves as slaves to be able to win slaves to Jesus? What so possessed them that they could out-love, out-live, out-think, and out-die the pagans of their day?
It was the discovery of the Treasure Chest of Holy Joy in the Kingdom of heaven and coming to possess the Pearl of Infinite Value — Christ Jesus the Lord and King of that Kingdom! It was the reality of becoming a lawful partner in an Unshakable Kingdom and a loving companion with the Unchanging person of the King! They were constrained and consumed by a passionate love for the Son of God.
Loving Jesus passionately involves:
A Sense of Entering Into a Personal Relationship With Jesus
Leonard Sweet asks, “What is Christianity?” and answers,
It is Christ. Nothing more. Nothing less. Christianity is not an ideology. Christianity is not a philosophy. Christianity is the “good news” that Beauty, Truth and Goodness are found in a person. Biblical community is founded and found on the connection to that person.
Conversion is more than a change in direction; it’s a change in connection. Jesus’ use of the ancient Hebrew word “shubh,” or its Aramaic equivalent, to call for “repentance” implies not viewing God from a distance, but entering into a relationship where God is command central of the human connection.
Genuine love for Jesus involves an unrelenting hunger, an unquenchable thirst and a burning desire for things to be right in my relationship with God above me, self within me, significant others associated with me and society around me.
Discovering the treasure of the kingdom of the heavens doesn’t involve uncovering a lot of laws to keep and labors to perform. It’s not about rules and rituals, past history and glory, or buildings and budgets. Paul says in Romans 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” What he was saying in essence was, “The ultimate priority in kingdom living is to develop and maintain a passion for the King.”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness” could be paraphrased as, “blessed are those who develop a passionate love for the King.” For you see, Jesus is our righteousness, our peace, our joy and our all in all (1 Corinthians 1:30).
A Seeking of Intimate Companionship With Jesus
If we are passionately in love with Jesus, He will be central and supreme in every area of our lives. He is the One whose glory enfolds, consumes, defines and sums up our lives. Eugene Peterson pictures “supremacy” in his rendering of Colossians 1:17 in The Message:
He is supreme in the beginning, and — leading the resurrection parade — He is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding.
Matthew 6:33, “But seek (‘go on seeking’) first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” The word translated “seek” includes to seek in order to find out by thinking, meditating, reasoning, and to enquire into, and to aim at, strive after and to crave.
Matthew 6:33 is given as the antidote to all the anxiety detailed in the verse before it. It says in essence, “As for food, drink, and raiment do not be anxious about them, but seek the Kingdom in them. Dress and eat for the Kingdom of the heavens. Let the great underlying passion, which is the great principle of the life of the King find its throbbing way into the extremities of this mortal, material life.”
Loving God First
There is a spiritual axiom that can be stated in this manner: “What we prize the most, we pursue the hardest and praise the loudest! What we love most dearly, we long for and labor for most passionately.”
At age 73, Lorin Maazel, long-time music director of the prestigious Cleveland Orchestra and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, reflected with keen insight on his years of conducting:
Great leaders elicit passion, not perfection. That’s my main job — to energize people. If they grind it out and couldn’t care less, then they wind up hating the conductor. Music without emotion is nothing. I’m never looking for a perfect performance. I’m looking for an impassioned performance.
This is certainly what the Greatest of all Leaders — King Jesus — did in the hearts of those who saw Him in His glory. The glory and majesty of His person re-energizes Christian living and draws out deeper desires for us to be His disciples. He impassions our pursuit of His greater glory. Our fervency for Him evidences to the world that His claims to supremacy must be taken seriously.
Are you more passionate in your pursuit of Christ than you are for consumer goods and services? If not, begin now — praying for God’s Redeemer, the King of Glory, to revisit you in power, to reveal to you the greater dimensions of the Father’s promises, in order to re-engage you passionately with who He is, where He’s headed, what He’s doing and how He’s blessed.
To value anything equal to Christ (including angels) is to devalue Christ! Christ is never truly valued as anything until He is valued as everything! He values Christ not at all who doesn’t value Christ above ALL!
Sustained in Christ
We need to see Christ as our Life, our Lord, our Lover. Christ our Help, our Hope, our Healer. Christ our Peace, our Power.
If the Scriptures are true, and they are, then to attempt to add anything to Christ, or find something or someone that’s better than Him, is to be duped by the devil and deprived of the richness of relationship and resources untold! If He is who He claimed to be, how can we not submit to His reign in every area of our lives? We can trust Him, plus nothing, in every circumstance, every disappointment and every heartache. We can trust Him, plus nothing, with every nook and cranny of fear, uncertainty and doubt. We can trust Him, plus nothing, in our bleakest, darkest, most desperate hour. When all seems lost, hopeless, and we’re helpless to change it, He is able, available and more than adequate.
When evil seems to have the upper hand, He’s good. When weakness is our lot, He’s our Strength. When change sends our minds reeling from confusion, He is clear, confirming, comforting and unchanging. He’s worthy of worship, worthy of praise, worthy of all the offerings we bring!
Many of us need a re-conversion from a performance-based, orphaned-spirited legalism to a grace-based, sonship liberation in Christ alone. We need to see Christ as our Life, our Lord, our Lover. Christ our Help, our Hope, our Healer. Christ our Peace, our Power. The Person that lives in us to form us, fill us, and free us from religion, with its legalism, to life — abundant law-abiding, God-enjoying Life in the Spirit!