I've been thinking a lot lately about "passion".  Not the late-night, for-purchase-on-tv kind of passion.  I'm talking about the kind of thing you feel so strongly about that you want to devote your whole life to it.

When I hear the word "passion", my mind naturally tends to think of the movie.  You know the one.

In this case, the "passion" refers to the hours leading up to and during Jesus' trial and crucifixion during which time he suffered immensely in every possible way - physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.  

From wikipedia (the source of all sources, right?):
The etymological origins of the word lie in the Greek verb paschō, to suffer, from passages such as Matthew (and parallel passages in Mark and Luke) and Acts 1:3. The Latin word passio is used with reference to Christ's mortal suffering in the Vulgate. The term first appears in 2nd century Christian texts precisely to describe the travails and suffering of Jesus in this present context. The word passion has since taken on a more general application and now also describes the accounts of Christian martyrs.
I watched this movie at the theater in March of 2004 when Ben was a mere six months old.  As a new mom, the images of Mary following her son around the city, watching him endure such torture were almost too much for me to bear.  In just six months time, I had quickly found out that one of my passions was being a mother.  I tried to put myself in Mary's shoes, and then just as quickly I tried not to imagine what that would be like to watch your sinless son face unrelenting, shameless torture.  

The images in the movie were startling, to say the least, but I believe that the magnitude of the torture was accurately portrayed, if not even watered down for the sake of the modern movie-watcher.  Obviously, the movie took some Hollywood liberties, but that withstanding, the general premises - that Jesus was arrested, tried, condemned, tortured, and crucified - are absolutely true.

The crucifixion is often times highlighted as the event that Christians dwell on, but that couldn't be farther from the truth.  Crucifixion, in fact, was a pretty common means of carrying out a death sentence in those days.  The most important fact about Jesus' death is that it had nothing to do with the beatings he endured, the spear in his side, or the physical hanging on the cross.  Jesus died from voluntarily accepting God's wrath on his soul, so that we wouldn't have to.  Someone completely blameless, 100% righteous, and obviously selfless died so that the rest of us would have the opportunity to live.

And it doesn't even stop there.

The fact that Jesus endured God's wrath for our sins, and still defeated death by rising again is what gives us hope of the promise that if we believe in His sacrifice and accept His grace we, too, will rise again to live in eternity after death.  Jesus paved the way for our eternal life.
20But Christ has been raised to life! And he makes us certain that others will also be raised to life. 21Just as we will die because of Adam, we will be raised to life because of Christ. 22Adam brought death to all of us, and Christ will bring life to all of us.  1 Corinthians 15: 20-22
(Aside:  For two seconds let me just say that it matters not to me if you despise Mel Gibson.  The people who made this movie are just men.  Jesus was not.  The sins of a director can do nothing to taint the character of Jesus.  The end.)

By modern standards, the term passion is something along the lines of what I started out with - something that causes a deep emotional stir in us.  Jesus' passion was the soul of every person on this earth.

A few weeks ago, I brushed off a dusty book from my bookshelf that I bought back in 1999.  It was compiled by the Christian band dcTalk, and contains the stories of over a hundred people with a passion for Christ and His message so strong that they gave their own lives for it.  It is called Jesus Freaks: Stories of Those Who Stood for Jesus.
It is said that there are more Christian martyrs today than there were in 100AD - in the days of the Roman Empire.  According to a study done at Regent University, there were close to 156,000 Christians martyred around the world in 1998. ~Jesus Freaks
The dates and places of the account go from the first martyr, Stephen, to present day martyrs all over the world.  These people chose not to deny their faith in the face of certain death as a testimony to the truth of Jesus.  Their stories have caused a stir in me. 
Some Christians haven't even attempted to think about whether or not they would die for Jesus because they haven't really been living for Him. ~dcTalk
Naturally, it got me thinking about where my passions lie.  I'm still figuring that out.  But God gifts us each uniquely so that we can best serve Him with our individual talents.  In Sunday School a couple of weeks ago, we talked about using our spiritual gifts.  The challenge was not to wait until we figure out what our gift is to use it, but to dig in and "get our hands dirty", and we'll quickly find out how we're gifted. 

I have been blessed in so many ways that sometimes I think it's to my misfortune.  In my comfort, I lose touch with reality.  I forget about those who are lost, and hurting, and whose daily needs aren't even being met. 

Our worship service closed yesterday with the singing of the song "My House is Full (But my Field is Empty)".

(From youtube)
There is peace and contentment
In my Father's House today
Lots of food on His table
And no one is turned away
There is singing and laughter
As the hours pass by
Then a hush calms the singing
As the Father sadly cries
My house is full, but my field is empty
Who will go and work for Me today?
It seems My children all want to stay around My table
But no one wants to work in My field
No one wants to work in My field
Push away from the table
Look out through the windowpane
Just beyond this house of plenty
Lies a field of golden grain
And it's ripened unto harvest
But the reapers, where are they?
In the house, oh can't the children
Hear the Father sadly say?
Souls are crying, men are dying
Won't you lead them to the cross
Go and find them, help to win them
Win the lost at any cost
But no one wants to work in My field
I looked around, and I didn't notice anyone else tearing up, but my eyes were just about freely flowing.  It  brought it all together for me.  Jesus said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few."  They may be few, but I'm one of them.  And I need to pick up my reaper.  Because, to be honest, it's getting a little rusty.

I have comfort in knowing that even as I dive in, I'm not alone.  The most reaffirming thing for me, as a Christian, is knowing I'm in a situation I alone cannot possibly handle, but having the Holy Spirit bring me through.  Thank you, God, for that.  

My prayer today is that God will give me the motivation and courage to get myself out in the field and get my hands dirty, and in doing so that God will reveal my passions and my gifts to me, so that I may better serve Him.


Debbie said...

What a post.

I read the words to the song rather than click the link. That was probably the better choice because I'm so emotional lately that it is safer that way.

I have so much to say but no words seem to work. You have no idea how much you're speaking my heart here.

Sharon said...

My goodness. The Lord is speaking strongly in your heart, dear Jennie. And you are listening.

I was so inspired by this. You are thinking and wrestling with some of the things that have been so close to my own heart lately. Tomorrow (8/17) I'm talking a little about some of my struggle in this area. That's not a plug, by the way - just wanted you to know that you're not alone on this whole issue of serving the Lord.

Great, great words, Jennie - I can hardly wait to see what God is going to do IN your life, and THROUGH your life!


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