Good morning my friends. If you had to describe your relationship with Jesus in one word what would that one word be? Dynamic? Weak? Exuberant? Convenient? Passionate? Lame? I am trying to mix it up a bit just to get your thoughts in gear but you may find it hard to find a word that describes such an incredible relationship. Then again, maybe it is not incredible. Maybe it is ordinary, dull, even boring. I have met some people who have declared that no one could ever sit on the fence when it comes to Jesus; one has to either be passionate about him or hostile toward him. I disagree. I believe most of us act indifferent about Jesus. Some call it apathy. I am convinced most of the Church is sitting on the fence.
The Church, you and me, has lost her passion for her Lord and husband, or at least for the most part. When I read a passage like this mornings passage, found in Philippians 1, I realize I have not met many people who are as passionate for Jesus as what Paul was. Oh, yes, they can shout out praises and lift their hands to the sky; they can jump up and down in worship and cry honest tears of love; they can give time, money and energy to the mission but can they say with Paul:
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. v. 21
We can all shout praises but can we all live these words? These words come from a deep passion for Jesus and the mission he gave to us. This passion causes us to stay in situations and do things we would normally never normally do, facing difficult things all because of Jesus and the mission he gave us. In fact, these two things should cause a slight conflict in us as Paul describes it:
If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. vs. 22-24
I want you to be honest with yourself this morning. Dig beneath all the Christian platitudes and the pat answers and find the chamber of honest reflection. Ask yourself if you are passionately desiring to leave this place to be with Jesus. It may depend on your condition. If you are deathly ill you may be looking forward to escaping. Same is true if your life has not gone they way you expected and you have no hope. But what about those who have great lives, everything they had desired and for which they had hoped? What about those who are surrounded by family and friends? To be blunt, escaping should not be our motivation to leave and attachments should not be our reason to stay. If we are as passionate as what we hope we are, our only desire should be Jesus.
The reason Paul was leaning slightly with a desire to stay was because of the sense of obligation he had for the Church. It was the mission he had been charged with by Jesus that was keeping him in this place, facing what he faced, not any attachment to anything in this place. Remember his heart:
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. Philippians 3:7-8
No, the only attachment Paul had to this place was to the Church and the mission he was given. This is the reason he told the Philippians:
Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me. vs. 25-26
This was not written out of arrogance but out of that same heart of passion for Christ. To have this passion for Jesus means that one also has this same passion for everything related to Jesus. How can we be passionate about Jesus and then hateful to the Bride by being hateful to a brother or sister? In fact, our love for Jesus should compel us into great love for all who follow Jesus, regardless if they are great people or jerks. This passion affects every part of us not just how we worship. It fills us with so much love and concern for the Church and the mission that we will be able to face anything to complete the work we have been given to do. Is this how you feel about Jesus? Does this describe your passion? If not you need to cry out to him today that he would re-ignite that flame of passion in you.
To live is Christ and to die is gain. Read those words with the respect owing to them because they are birthed in passionately deep love for Jesus. How can we not be passionate about the one whose passion for us took him to the cross? Do you realize this means he gave his all so that we could give our all? To give your all takes passion. Passion can only be found in knowing that you are loved by the greatest lover of all time and eternity: Jesus Christ. Find that passion again and let us see the Church get off the fence.