by Pastor Andrew Morgirdge
Whenever we hear messages or admonitions about the Great Commission and sharing the gospel with others we get fired up for a little while and then later on fizzle out. What is the problem? The answer is that passion is missing. And it’s a bad sign of the end for us, because we are identifying with Laodicean Church which God rejected (Rev. 3:17-20).
You say, ‘I am rich, with everything I want; I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that spiritually you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. “My advice to you is to buy pure gold from me, gold purified by fire—only then will you truly be rich. And to purchase from me white garments, clean and pure, so you won’t be naked and ashamed; and to get medicine from me to heal your eyes and give you back your sight. I continually discipline and punish everyone I love; so I must punish you unless you turn from your indifference and become enthusiastic about the things of God. “Look! I have been standing at the door, and I am constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and he with me. Rev. 3:17-20 TLB
Lost Passion: It Is Not New
It is not just today that people have lost passion, it’s something that has always happened in the life of Israel and in the life of the Church, and each time God never stopped talking about it. When Moses was giving his valedictory speech he told the Israelites, “If you forget your God He will turn against you” (Deut. 8:19). The Bible says that in the process of time, after Joshua’s death, they forgot their God and turned to idol worshipping, the very thing that God already condemned, and the very reason why God drove the Canaanites out of the land for Israel, they were now indulging in (Judges 2:19-23).
When lukewarmness comes in, when passion is dead, God says He will turn against you. The history of the Israelites is fraught with this lack of passion for the things of God, and that was what led them to be punished by God often. That’s my fear. How long will God bear with us? I’m identifying this passion because when we say somebody disobeyed there must be an underlying factor, an attitude that made you disobey God or disobey authority. It is passion in its entirety. What I mean by that is passion has three legs that it stands on like a camera’s tripod stand – motivating factor, consistency and the heart.
You disdain something when you have lost passion for it (Matt. 7:22-23)
Needless to say, after a long time of sending prophets to Israel, the Bible says they went into captivity in Babylon, for seventy solid years. Only, there’s no captivity to send Christian to, it’s Great Tribulation for them.
Still On Passion Lost – Haggai’s Ministry
Haggai is the first prophet who spoke to the exiles after they returned from the bondage of Babylon. His ministry had a single focus: urging God’s people to be obedient, especially in the rebuilding of the temple which they had stopped. In his time, the exiles had returned under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua the High Priest to re-build the temple destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar but the work was stopped when the people lost passion for the rebuilding of the Temple. After collecting money and materials they became self-centered and began to use the money to build fanciful structures for themselves (Ezra 1:1-5, Haggai 1 & 2). Haggai and Zechariah were raised up by God to promote the spirit of revival among the people of Israel.
Zechariah ministered along the same lines in the same period. Zechariah was the son of Iddo. The name Zechariah means “the Lord remembers.” The name Iddo means “the appointed time.” If you put the two names together you have “God remembers the appointed time.” In God’s appointed time of restoration was when He saw complacency, lukewarmness and a very high level of selfishness (all very present today). That was the way it was when God began to speak. Zechariah 1:11 reads, “the angels of the Lord went forth and the Lord asked them, “how goest the earth?” The angels said, “the whole place is still – nothing is happening.” The work to rebuild the house of God had stopped! The zeal that they brought from Babylon had died down; everything had become lukewarm and ritualistic. But thank God they listened to the messages of God’s prophets to return to site, and the Temple was rebuilt.
Malachi – Messenger of God
Malachi then came in on the scene, his name which means “the messenger,” points attention to the fact that he was sent by God to convey the feelings of God. He ministered after Haggai and Zechariah, after the temple had been built in response to the call of the two prophets. They rejoiced at what they had done even though God Himself lamented that the glory of this Temple could not be compared to the one that was built by Solomon, nevertheless God said He would be present there. But after the building of the Temple what happened? Lukewarmness now set into the land again. All the joy at rebuilding the Temple had died away. They lost the passion for the things of God again, and by the time of Malachi you began to see abuses in the sacrificial system setting (Mal 1:7- 10). Marriage too was now no longer sacred (Mal 2:14). Sadly, these are the things we see freely manifesting among Christians – gospel artists and even Pastors.
After Malachi, with increased atrocities and unrepentant hearts, for four hundred (400) years, they did not hear “thus saith the Lord.” Between Malachi and John the Baptist is a very sad period in the time of Israel: one rebellion after the other, the Syrians and the Romans taking them into captivity, all because they lost passion for the things of God.
Where are you in the scheme of things? Where is passion for the things of God? Examine yourself and return to the path that leads to the city of God. That’s the path God walks with us, to protect us, to bless us.
Can we who have known Him longest love Him the most? Yes, why not! Knowing someone better always causes us to love someone more; or to dislike him more. In other words, passion can either increase or die out. Passion is defined as ‘a violent emotion;’ ‘something one has a great enthusiasm for;’ ‘something preferred above all’. Ask yourself a question: “Is that how I see the Lord? Is that how I see church? Is there passion attached to it or it has become a ritual? In the days of old, they looked forward to rebuilding the temple for seventy (70) years; when the opportunity came, they trifled with it. How many people had been looking forward to the Rapture but now they say, “Let’s apply wisdom, what if Christ tarries?” Did He not say in Matthew 24:36 that nobody, not even angels would know the date of Rapture? But false knowledge leading to assumption has killed the passion of many. That’s why Paul said in the End Time, people will have only a form of godliness – they will go to church, yes, but they won’t really believe anything they hear. Don’t be taken in by people like that (2 Tim. 3:5).
The Greek word for passion is “pascho”. It means the opposite of free action; it means to doggedly continue in what one is doing, despite oppositions from outside influences. It is not an ordinary emotion; it is a violent emotion, to prefer something above any other thing. You only need to go watch a football match to have a feel of what passion is. I have often wondered why I should support a team that gets walloped all the time. Supporters of clubs at the bottom of the table don’t give up – they will even pay to travel hundreds of miles to watch their team play. Well, I guess I may not have that kind of passion, but many do. If only that can be transferred to worshipping Christ, wow! Won’t that be wonderful? All that coming to church late; all that skipping mid-week services; all that giving of lame offerings to God would STOP!!! That will be the day when “the church is marching on to war” will come to pass!
The Samaritan Woman
The Greeks who the Jews called dogs were the ones that had this passion in them. But the people that Jesus came unto, their passion had died. Look at the Samaritan woman at the well, she had passion in her. This woman left her waterpot and went away into the city. She became the first preacher of the gospel unto the Gentiles, and so effective was her preaching that it caused a revival in the land. The whole town came forth to hear her saying, “Come, see a man who told me everything that I ever did.”
Christianity is real. If you have it, you can’t keep it to yourself. Let Christians who can’t preach to others on the street or in the bus consider: do they really have Jesus. Because you can’t hide Him! True Christians tell others about Him (Luke 12:8). The Samaritan woman caused a revival in the whole town, because she saw the Lord. Compare her transformation to the lukewarmness of the disciples who cared for flesh – food (See John 4:30-36). Where is our passion? We need passion. If it has died, then it’s time to revive it, because when that passion is there, all other things become secondary, you will focus on Jesus and the things of God, totally.
Passion also means ‘suffering for something, because you accepted it,’ and that is where a lot of us have problems. “How can God say I should give up all the money that I have laboured for over the years just because somebody wants to hold a crusade or because of an upcoming camp meeting? Let’s talk about it another time.” But when you have passion for something, you don’t mind suffering loss for it.
The Lord has decided that He will have a people ready without wrinkle or blemish. Our prayer is that this will help in your preparation for the coming of the Lord. Where is the passion for the things of the Lord? is the question we’ve been asking for a while. This is something we’ve been tracing right from the time of Moses; how he told them that when you turn away from following the Lord He will scatter you into many nations. As you are listening today, Israel is still scattered in many nations, a confirmation that the word of God is true.
The motivating factor for all positive action is a commitment to the greater values inherent in the action or command. Because God said it you drop your ideas, your ideals and do His own (Mal 1:6; Lk. 14:25-27).
In Luke 14:25-27 the word “SERVANT” in the parable drives this point home. It means: a servant, an attendant, a slave, bondman, man of servile condition. Metaphorically, one who gives himself up to another’s will, Devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests. I’m sure that’s not the regular Christian’s definition of sonship. But the truth is the son is a servant of God. You can’t exclude one from other. We must hate even our own very lives to become the disciples of Christ. That is the cost of following Christ through and through. That’s Consistency. For example, if I don’t go to work every day, I won’t get paid my salary, that is the underlying truth. So behind every action, behind every consistency, there is an underlying truth. And in the things of God, it is the same. Now, what is this greater truth that has made men and women to die for Jesus and His gospel?
It is basically understanding and accepting the servant/Master relationship inherent in Christianity. In Luke 14:33, Jesus said, “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, there is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.”
The Greek Definition Of Truth
Truth is aletheia; a derivation of alethoia. Aletheia means “the unveiled reality.” In other words, it is hidden, for it to be unveiled. How can reality be hidden? In the ordinary sense, when you say something is a reality, it means you can see it, but truth is hidden. It is only those who have stayed with the Lord, those who have crossed the dimension of being mere church goers that will see ‘the truth’ – the God factor in an instruction. For example, at one time the Lord spoke but only the disciples heard what He said; others said it thundered or an angel spoke (John 12:27-29).
In Matthew 13, Jesus told the people the Parable of the Sower. At the end of the day, the disciples went back to Jesus to ask for explanation. Jesus took them aside and told them the meaning of the parable using more parables to explain. If you don’t go back to God, you may miss the underlying factor behind every action, and every Scripture too. It is that truth unveiled in the Bible that makes all the difference in whatever a man does. When you get ‘the truth’, there is fuel for the passion in you and then you begin to act where others are not acting.
So truth is the unveiled reality, lying at the basis of, and agreeing with anything that is before you. It is the veritable (real) essence of matter, the reality pertaining to appearance. For instance, you can’t see the mechanism inside a microphone, without which the microphone would not work. All you can see is the microphone, but there is an essence inside it, that is giving it life; that is the truth.
Consistency on Display – David and Jonathan
In 1 Samuel 18:1-4, Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle. What do you think was wrong with Jonathan? Had he gone crazy? He was the king designate – the next king, but here he was giving his robe (sign of royalty) to David because he agreed with God that David would be the next king, not himself. He even gave his girdle (he became naked before David).
That was how “crazy” Jonathan loved David, and David also reciprocated, because love reciprocates love. And David did not just love Jonathan, he loved Saul in the same way, and that was the underlying factor behind everything he did to Saul’s family. 1 Samuel 16:21 says, “And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer.” An armour bearer was a kind of companion in battle, one who would readily die for you. That was how much David loved Saul.
The covenant basically meant that whatever belonged to Jonathan now belonged to David. He was giving David the kingdom because he knew that God had anointed him king. The underlying factor was that God had done it; Jonathan agreed with God and showed it. Consistency can only be possible when you have agreed with an instruction. Jonathan agreed with the instruction of God concerning David, and did not do it grudgingly, but with a special love.
It was the same with David. He took one look at Saul and loved him; not because Saul was handsome, not because he was a king but because as David said later, “he was the anointed of the Lord” (1 Samuel 26:23; 2 Samuel 1:1-14). It is the same Hebrew word ahavah (special love) that is used to describe David’s love for Saul and Jonathan; an affection that spanned three generations, counting from Saul. In 2 Samuel 9, David cried, “Is there somebody yet in this land that I will show mercy to, for the sake of Jonathan?” He found Mephibosheth, the lame son of Jonathan and said, “From today, you will sit and eat at my table.” And when it was time to give up seven descendants of Saul to appease the Gibeonites whom Saul massacred, David carefully excluded Mephibosheth (2 Sam. 21:1-7). Three generations, the underlying factor for everything was love for Jonathan.