Exactly a year ago I preached my last message at All Nations church, prayed for the last time for those wanting a fresh touch from God, hugged my dear brothers and sisters for the last time – and retired.
That was it. After 38 years, church done and dusted. It was painful.
Then on to face another round fighting cancer, a winter of daily radio therapy, and then moving from our home and severing links with neighbours and friends and beginning a new life by the seaside. How much we’ve appreciated those who’ve held the ladder for us during this year of huge change because, after such a positive experience of church, it’s been hard having to visit lots of different churches looking for a new church family to join, and like the majority of people in our country there have been many weeks when we haven’t wanted to go to church because a lot of what we’ve seen in our travels has turned us off.
There’s plenty of showmanship out there, and correctness, and sloppiness and aloofness and shallowness, and, incredibly, ‘sameness’, and dullness. But all we’ve been longing for is something rather simple. Some passion.
Is it too much to ask that we might actually experience God at church? To be reassured that God is real, that he is more than a historical figure, that he is present today, and that he is active in the lives of people today?
How on earth have we managed to make Jesus, the Lion of Judah boring?
Passion is a priceless aspect of leadership. It’s something that can be faked, but only temporarily. We can only keep up the facade of passion for so long, before people begin to realize we aren’t quite as committed as we’ve acted.
Real passion burns inside us. It flares up somewhat uncontrollably and makes us do crazy things, like go to new places with the gospel, get personally involved in the lives of hurting people, and push others around us forward even at the cost of our own comfort.
Real passion is contagious. Things happen when a person on fire for Jesus is around, as we saw when in a tent, on top of Frinton cliffs, 73 year old Arthur Blessitt turned up!!! The man who has been carrying the cross around the world for 44 years and has taken it to every nation and is listed in the Guinness World Records for the world’s longest walk over 40,500 miles in 321 countries, islands groups & territories came to Essex!
He has carried the cross through such places as Iraq, North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, China, South Africa, Lebanon, India, Antarctica, Palestine, Israel, Cuba, Libya, Yemen, Vietnam and Mongolia, and one Saturday afternoon in July someone looked out of their front window and saw a cross go by. Arthur was going for a stroll through sleepy Frinton towards Colchester with his cross! Phones started ringing, people were alerted and Arthur was invited to stay on and speak the next night in a tent.
A great crowd gathered to see a man on fire for Jesus and his cross. The passion burning in Him for Jesus touched many that night, including Ann & me. He was a breath of fresh air!
Passion goes further. Commitment will get the job done. Commitment is good. But passion is what drives us to put in overtime in the areas of life that matter the most to us.
- Passionate marriages show the evidence of a man pursuing his wife with intentionality.
- Passionate businesses go the extra mile to provide top notch, beyond normal customer service.
- Passionate churches are known by their extra mile love.
And passionate church leaders are always chasing the next possible way to fulfill the Great Commission in our generation.
More than ever we need to stoke the ‘Goddy fire’ in us like 73 year old Arthur keeps doing so it doesn’t go out. I dread that ever happening to me. According to Revelation 3v16 there are no lukewarm Christians in heaven.
‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit’ (Romans 15:13).
Away with dullness!