A little while ago, I was at a friend’s house and I shared with him a video of a black gospel choir in Japan (link). He made the comment, “I wish I was just as passionate” as them. As usual, it got me thinking about what sort of believers are we seeking in our churches? What is the aim of our preaching and ministry each week? Is it passionate believers? Or…is there something more?
A quick search on Dictionary.com returns the entry:
- having, compelled by, or ruled by intense emotion or strong feeling; fervid: a passionate advocate of socialism.
- easily aroused to or influenced by sexual desire; ardently sensual.
- expressing, showing, or marked by intense or strong feeling; emotional: passionate language.
- intense or vehement, as emotions or feelings: passionate grief.
- easily moved to anger; quick-tempered; irascible.
The above definition centres around one central aspect of human nature: emotions. So, it concerns me if people consider the mark of a mature Christian is measured by their passion for God. No doubt, as a church leader, I want passionate people—passionate people are infectious and motivated—but there is something deeper which I want to find in mature Christians, something which continues to remain when the emotions run dry. So, what sort of Christians do we want in our churches, if not passionate Christians?
The first quality should be faith. Not a blind, uncomprehending faith but a deep and tested faith. It is a faith that knows God’s sovereignty in the midst of chaos, it is a faith that knows God’s provision when there is nothing, it is a faith that knows God’s strength and power when all seems lost, it is a faith that knows God’s faithfulness despite one’s own lack of faith. Without such a faith, passionate people will drown when the storms of life approach.
The second quality should be perseverance. Similarly to faith, perseverance is a characteristic built up over the life of mature Christian. Perseverance sees beyond the immediate circumstances of life and looks forward to a better day. Perseverance will not run from the battles of life, but will stand their ground with sword and shield ready to face the challenges ahead. Perseverance stands up against their enemies refusing to give into their taunts, rather turns the other cheek, walks the extra mile, and shows love to the one who does not care.
The third quality should be grace. One of more scarce qualities of Christians, at any rate, is grace. Most Christians have a semblance of grace, but few have a deep-seated understanding and reality of grace. This grace allows people to make mistakes, this grace affords people opportunities which life would not otherwise give them, this grace does not enforce rules or regulations but encourages and exhorts another to greater things, this grace captures every moment of life in a precious perspective understood only in eternity.
These are just some qualities that come to mind, they are far from exhaustive. However, they are 3 qualities which I think begin to build a better foundation for understanding the sort of Christian I want in my church. What about you? What sort of Christian do you want in your church?