Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Passionate Love: the relationship between God and you

Are you ready to begin a new Good Bible Study? I can't wait!

I just finished reading the Book of Revelation and was struck at the very end, by God's passionate love for all mankind! Not only that, but the fact that while God loves each and every one of us, He really seems to develop a special friendship with those who are passionate, as well.

Think about it: who did God call His friend - by the way, can you imagine being called God's personal friend, not His child, not His servant, not His follower, but His friend? A few passionate souls come to mind:

Moses, a man so passionate he struck an Egyptian guard down to defend his fellow Israelites. Exodus 33:11

Abraham, who was so devoted to God he was willing to sacrifice his own son at God's command, trusting that God would raise his son Isaac up to fulfill God's Word that a nation would come from Isaac's line. 2 Chronicles 20:7; James 2:23

David was called a man after God's own heart. After God's own heart! Can you stand it? 1 Samuel 13:14b

Now, David was truly a man with an appetite for life and a passion for God. When the Lord showed David that he didn't have to be afraid to have the Ark of The Covenant in David's household, he brought the Ark to the City of David with such gladness, that after the procession had only gone 6 paces, David commanded they stop and offer a sacrifice to God. Then he danced before the Lord with all his might wearing a linen ephod (a short, sleeveless garment worn by priests.) The word used as danced here actually means "whirled." Imagine the trumpets blasting, and the people shouting, and the king of the land dancing and whirling with joy before the Lord!

I know that feeling, do you? That desire just to tear off my coat and dance with my face lifted up to the Lord, with tears of joy streaming down my face, just whirling about filled with the passion of the Holy Spirit before my God!Sometimes I have to remind myself that I don't go to that kind of church and do I really want to attract that kind of attention? David didn't care and I hope one day that I don't either!

The flipside is that passion without boundaries is just chaos.

Like Moses, David showed his passionate nature gone astray when he commanded one of his officer's wives, Bathsheba, be brought to the palace, where he seduced her (he was the king after all, I doubt she had much choice in the matter.) To cover his sin when she became pregnant, he then had her husband transferred to the front lines, and abandoned to die. You don't want to tick this guy off. Don't worry, God deals with David.

Paul is one of the best examples of a passionate, godly man - prior to his meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul (known then as Saul) was passionate about one thing only: killing Christians. Paul boasted that he followed all the commandments and all the Jewish traditional laws without blame. He considered himself a holy crusader of sorts, ridding the land of the "blasphemous" Jesus-followers without mercy. He was single minded, purposeful, and would let no one sway him from his goal.

Where you and I might see Paul as a lost cause, I can imagine God looking at Paul and saying, "Now there is a man I can use. There is a passionate man." He was right. Paul served God unselfishly and loved His people without rest, until the end of his life.

Peter, who Jesus called His "rock" was also a man of great passion. When Jesus asked Peter and his brother to put down their nets and "follow me," they did so immediately. Matt. 4:18-19. Later, when Jesus asked His disciples who the people said He was, and who they said He was, it was Peter who answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Matt. 16:16

When Jesus described His coming death and resurrection, it was Peter who took Jesus aside and vehemently insisted this should not happen. But Jesus reminded Peter that he was worried about things that concern men, instead of things that concern God. Matthew 16:21-23. Good or bad, it was Peter who always spoke up, who couldn't stop himself from speaking out, or acting up, because he was filled with passion! Peter was all in.

Peter followed Jesus out of the boat and onto the water. Matt. 14:28-29.

Peter struck off the guard's ear when Jesus was arrested. Matt. 26:51.

Peter followed Jesus all the way into the courtyard for His Lord's trial, when the other disciples fled. And it was Peter who wept bitterly when he realized he had just as adamantly denied knowing Jesus, just as Jesus predicted. Matt. 26:69-75

Finally, I want to add Mary, the sister to Martha and Lazarus, to this list of passionate individuals. Jesus loved these three as dear friends. John 11:5.

When Jesus visited their town, it was to Lazarus, Martha, and Mary's home that he stayed. During one such occasion, Martha was preparing the meal, while Mary sat enraptured at Jesus' feet, listening to Him talk and teach. Martha was irritated and asked Jesus to tell Mary to get up and help. But Jesus said, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42

You might not think this is a big deal, but in this time and culture, a women's place was definitely not in the living room with the men, but in the kitchen working and serving! Mary didn't care. She was passionate about Jesus and tradition be - well, you know!

You know, most of these individuals made really big mistakes, and sinned in ways you and I would condemn. But God doesn't demand perfection in behavior, but genuine love in our hearts. He knows those with huge hearts make huge mistakes - and they suffer just as greatly when they realize their error.

Moses ran off to live in the desert for 40 years, Exodus 2:15; David wept and fasted for 7 days, 2 Sam. 12:16-17; and Paul changed his entire life, giving up the wealth and prestige of his position in the Jewish culture and giving his very life to serve the cause of his Lord, Jesus Christ.

After denying Jesus three times, Peter ran off alone to weep bitterly, probably feeling like the worst Christian in the world. But as soon as Jesus was resurrected from the dead, He sent for Peter. He asked Peter three times if Peter loved him (the word for love used was "agapao", meaning a love requiring commitment.) I think Peter must have been unsure of his own ability to uphold his commitment to Jesus after failing so miserably in the courtyard, so answered first and secondly that he loved Jesus, using the word "phileo", meaning a strong warmth and friendship.

Finally, the third time, Peter asserted that he did love Jesus with commitment, or agapao, and it was only then that Jesus commanded Peter to care for His flock, His church, His believers. This time, Peter knew what was at stake, and he said "yes."

Interestingly, it seems Mary and Abraham lived their whole lives in obedience to God, and perhaps that was the reason they were each called God's friend, for Jesus says if we obey His commandment (to love one another as He has loved us), we are His friend. John 15:14-15.

I want to be called the friend of God. I want to be Jesus' friend. I want to be passionate about loving what He loves; who He loves! Are you with me? If so, we are going to passionately love God, love Jesus, and love others. That's a verb, by the way.

Join me again in A Good Bible Study as we learn to loose our passionate nature for God!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment.