Spark or thermonuclear explosive
Passion can be a spark or a thermonuclear device. Aligned in last place behind humility, values, and relationships passion can be the final ignition point for your personal influence. Without the first three, passion can be a combustible firestorm that will inflame you, the people around you, and the ideals that have given you such zeal in the first place. There are many passionate people who can't get anything done. When they look over their shoulder no one is behind them. They are on fire for something, but their influence is minimal because no one is listenting. Passion alone doesn't flow naturally to others.
It goes by many names, this passion---excitement, enthusiasm, zeal, intensity, lust, ardor, fervor, fire, frenzy, and dozens of others depicting the inner flame that raises our temperature and pulse. In the ESV Bible passion is more the physical manifestation of sexual desire, you know, the sins of the flesh or the basic nature of man. The more positive spiritual virtue is usually portrayed in the New Testament by the word "zeal", in Greek the word "zelos", usually referring to one who is greatly devoted to a person or ideal. Of the Apostles there was Simon Zelotes, a designation to differ him from Simon Peter. He was a lesser known Apostle but was believed to have been a zealous Jewish nationalist. But, there are many other references to the zeal that should characterize those Jesus chose to influence the world---
And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously
they proclaimed it.
Mark 7:36, ESV
His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me."
John 2:17, ESV
And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, "You see, brother, how
many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all
zealous for the law...
Acts 21:20, ESV
He one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one
who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Romans 12:8, ESV
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Romans 12:11, ESV
For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to
clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment!
At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.
2 Corinthians 7:11, ESV
For I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying
that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them.
2 Corinthians 9:2, ESV
Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a
people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Titus 2:14, ESV
Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?
1 Peter 3:13, ESV
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.
Revelation 3:19, ESV
These many verses make it clear that zeal or passion is a spark that can ignite personal influence. Paul's note to the Corinthians regarding their offering for the persecuted believers in Jerusalem verifies the spark value of passion in the lives of those who are called, equipped, and sent to influence others, you know, you and I ---"And your zeal has stirred up most of them" (2 Corinthians 9:2). There's an infectious quality about passion that ignites our inner fires and shines brightly to influence others.
When I went away to The Citadel 49 years ago, our dad gave me a card with two phrases written on the reverse side: "Christ is the answer", and, "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm" (Ralph Waldo Emerson). They were guides for what was a tough year. Somewhere over the years I used that card as a book mark and it was lost. But, the treasure of it was etched deep in my memory banks. it was great advice, the idea of enthusiasm (from en theos, in Greek), or the zeal or passion that ignites us and others.
We are living in an influence starved world. For the first time in my life there is no central spiritual voice in our nation, no prime spiritual influence, and a bleak image of our national spiritual landscape. At first glance it is a discouraging picture. Then, again, in a broader view, there are around 280,000,000 believers at some level in the USA. This many people could influence this culture if they would all adopt these four sparks to ignite their influence.
Humility, values, relationships, and passion, four sparks to help us shine on the wrold he has called us to influence.