Published June 9, 2015

Paul's Epistle
("Passion Checkup - Part 4")

If you've been reading these columns the past three weeks, you know we're in the midst of what I call a "passion checkup." We're presenting eight guidelines that can help you determine your level of passion for Christ and His work in and through you. (Former columns can be viewed in our online archives.) Today we have the remaining two checkup points.

Checkup point #7:  Do you have a passion to share Christ with the unsaved?

If we truly have a passion for Christ, this is arguably our most important role in life. When each of us individually became a Christian, the decision was made – and the Lord could have taken us to be with Him immediately. But it doesn't work that way. He leaves us here to do His work. He leaves us here to tell others about Him. Otherwise, how would people know?

The Apostle Paul tells us, "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14.)

Now, let's get past that word "preacher." It's not just whoever stands up in the pulpit each Sunday. Each of us – as a Christian – is a preacher, whether we realize it or not. We preach with our lives. We preach when we share the Gospel. We preach when it's clear to all that we love the Lord.

Can we say with Paul – as he did in Romans 1:16 – "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes..." Is your passion for Christ such that you are not ashamed to share the Gospel with others?

The neat part about this is that – and you know this if you have ever led anyone to Christ – when this happens, it increases your own faith. It increases your own passion for Christ. It increases your desire to do it again! This is a Holy Passion that the Lord places in our hearts! And He cultivates it, and grows it, as we allow Him to do so.

One more checkup point...

Checkup point #8:   Does your passion for Christ surpass all others?

That is, does your passion for Christ come before and above anything else in your life?

That's not an easy question. The world today is so full of distractions – things that keep our attention focused elsewhere. Things like social media, the internet, television, the "daily grind" of work, school or whatever.

John has a stern warning about this in 1st John 2:15-17: "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever."

James 4:4 is even more to the point: "Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." And you certainly don't want to fall into that category!

Proverbs 23:7 warns us that " a man thinks in his heart, so is he." You've heard the old saying, "You are what you eat." This Scripture tells us that we are what we think about.

So, does your passion for Christ come before anything else – even physical survival?

The world watched in horror in early 2015 as Islamic terrorists slaughtered at least 147 Christians at a school in Kenya. News accounts said the gunmen asked each of the students whether or not they were Muslim. The Muslims were set free. The Christians were gunned down "without mercy," according to survivors. In like manner, Muslims on a small boat sailing from Liberia to Italy threw overboard at least a dozen Christians simply because the Christians were praying to God rather than Allah. Similar accounts keep coming — slaughters of Christian children, beheadings, etc., etc., etc. (Don't let your sense of outrage be numbed by the sheer number of such reports.)

Would your passion for Christ – and your willingness to stand up for Him and be a witness for Him – survive such life-or-death challenges? Would your passion for Christ surpass even your passion for life itself?

In our country, Christians face a more subtle persecution. Christians business people who refuse to violate the tenets of their faith are forced into bankruptcy. Some have lost their homes and their livelihood because of their faithful stand. In some parts of our society today, in Franklin Graham's words, "It's like it's open season on Christians." You've surely heard the news reports.

So – are you passionate for Christ and His work? The dictionary says the opposite of "passion" is "apathy." There is no room for apathy in Christian living. Paul tells us, "...brothers and sisters, be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord's work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless" (1st Cor. 15:58).

"Enthusiastic!"  That's being passionate for Christ. Consider today how you personally could be even more passionate for Christ and the work He's given us — He's given you — to do.

- Paul

PS: Has this special four-part series been helpful? Please let me know.

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