Passion.The degree of difficulty you are willing to endure to achieve the goal.Zeal.The enthusiastic devotion to a cause, ideal, or goal and tireless diligence in its furtherance.I am a highly passionate person. Those who know me well know that I am zealous about glorifying God, especially from an all-consuming response to the all-deserving revelation of God in the substitutionary death of Christ on the Cross.During job interviews, when the interviewer asks me about the strengths that I can bring to the workplace–I usually give them my 3 P’s: passionate, persistent, and patient. When I have my heart and mind focused on the purpose that is in front of me–I passionately pursue it, no matter what the cost. When obstacles get in my way, I press on again and again in spite of opposition, obstacles, discouragement and endure the difficulties. And if that doesn’t get me towards achieving my purpose, I take a step back to breathe and to pray for faith that God will cause all things to work together according to His purposes. And I patiently await His further instructions.Passion.However, in as much as passion for God’s glory is the one thing that drives me, my passion for the issues of the issues of the faith has also become my achilles’ heel. It is my only weakness: the fire in my heart and soul that drives me to zealous contend for or defend our faith. Over the past 6 months, my English pastor has mentioned to me at least once that it is my one weakness and the one big character flaw that I must be careful to handle appropriately. For when my heart is burdened by something (whether it be about worship, the church, a doctrine, or a sin) I can become totally focused on attacking it, fighting it, preaching about it, and simply on fire about it–that I just might BLOW UP if I don’t channel the fire correctly.I can testify that there have been many moments in my spiritual pilgrimage that I’ve felt like Peter Petrelli of the tv show Heroes–I have the ability to save the world with my powers, but still, my God-given powers can inadvertently blow up on me if it’s not properly handled. And that is the very same fear I have within me as I pursue God’s calling for a life of ministry in the church–the fear of blowing up. Over the past year, I’ve intentionally watched my vernacular when communicating my Reformed faith with friends — believers and unbelievers — so as that I don’t come off as arrogant or proud but to speak God’s revealed truths in love with humility. It’s been a difficult road, looking back and seeing how I am still reforming in my Reformed-ness, for there have been many time still when I wanted to blow up and scream at something heretical or aberrant.Purpose.
My weakness lies in my two-fold character: Reformed yet charismatic. I have heard numerous times the jokes, side-remarks, or names people call Southern Baptists and conservative types like myself. Even in today’s Christian literature that we Reformed types label Emerging and postmodern, the labels of “foundamentalists” or “conservatives” are all too popular yet correct in their description of how people like me in the past have treated others who are not like us. It is true that we have often been too near-sighted in theologizing every nitty gritty detail and neglected to see the bigger picture and the great need of bringing the Good News to people we meet. There must be a fine balance in being Reformed yet a Spirit-filled humility that the knowledge of God Himself is a gift of grace, and so I should also share this knowledge and love for God with grace.In those times where I radiated pride and arrogance about my knowledge of theology and the doctrines of grace, I know I hadforgotten about the purpose of being on fire for God! In trying to win arguments and to prove my point, I am sure I have in the past forgoten about encouraging, edifying, and building others up in their faith. In trying to prove that the Reformed way is best and superior, I have in the past neglected to be humble with my orthodoxy. I am slowly becoming better at this humility thing, making sure no arrogance or pride is present; this is taking a lot of time – I covet your prayers in this need.
Purpose over Passion.If my passion (namely, my zeal) for the things of God becomes greater than my purpose of loving God and loving others, then I am sunk. (I first heard Louie Giglio speak about this in great detail during the send-off message at Passion06.) My zeal alone can only get me so far, and may just as well blow me up to pieces if it is not fueled by the purposes of God. If the zeal becomes greater than the purpose, then one can only be living for the sake of the zealous act of doing something — but such is pointless and futile.There is a fine balance here. For when the zeal or passion run drives, when life and ministry may not feel Spirit-filled, it is in the purpose and mission that God has given us that motivates and pushes us to continue living, serving, worshipping. But even here lies a finer balance. The Lord Himself calls us not to be Purpose-Driven really, but rather Person-Driven. Our soul drive in life should be in seeking His kingdom and His righteousness, and striving to have that manifested in the lives of His people even here and now. Even as the small details of our purpose may change over time and the LORD Almighty may require us to do something out of the norm, our Commander and Chief is God alone and He should always be the one we report to and strive to please. Not ourselves, not others.Being Person-driven means that we must also have a healthy balance of love — love for God, and love for others. The Great Commandment requires us to be acutely aware of the order of true Christian love and to refrain from either extreme. Pride and arrogance seeps in when we only focus on the exultation of Christ in our lives of God-directed love; a self-centered humanism and theology seeps in when we overemphasize the incarnation of Christ in our lives of people-directed love. Scripture reminds us that we love each other because He first loved us, and thus a healthy love for God will always manifest itself in a humble love for every person who carries His image. In loving each other, we must also never neglect to first direct our minds attention and hearts affection toward our Creator God; we must acknowledge first that every good gift and every perfect gift comes from our Father of Lights. With the Cross of Christ always in view, may we never lose the wonder and always find delight in what Jesus has done for us and what only He can do the for the lost.SDG