It’s not easy being a New South Welshman living in Queensland in the days following yet another defeat in the State of Origin… Yes I know it could be argued that I ask for it as I have been known to stir the pot by doing things like wearing a Blues scarf as part of my liturgical vestments on Wednesday morning and it would have likely been a very different blog if we had won.
If I wanted an example of our newest magazine theme – ‘Hope in Hard Places’, then you need to look no further than the last decade of NSW rugby league. Only glimmers of hope have sustained the most passionate NSW fans but each year I believe. I still have hope with 2 games to go and I look forward to copping all the friendly flack between now and the next game which I know NSW will win!
At the very least I thought I might be able to theologise the experience for the benefit of a blog post…
I don’t deny I am a passionate fan. I do jump for joy when NSW score a try. I cheer when a QLD try is disallowed. On Wednesday night, I also hung my head in shame and disbelief when that terrible pass was thrown, which lead to the length of the field intercept try.
I do wonder how caring we are of one another’s passions – particularly when they differ from ours. I fear that in the world we are living in, we are becoming less caring of one another’s passions. Sharing your passion does leave you vulnerable, it can be dangerous and it can be costly but I want to encourage you as followers of Jesus to be bold with your passions, especially your faith in Jesus, which should be the one thing we are most passionate about.
This week we celebrate the birth of the church which reminds us of the disciples speaking with passion about Jesus. But they were sharing their passion differently – specifically in different languages. The sharing of this passion did get them into trouble, most of Jesus’s followers ended up being persecuted and many martyred. But their passion was attractive – on that day the first church formed with 3,000 converts.
The passion we each show, and the vulnerability that sharing this passion creates, is actually the most attractive thing about the Christian church. Yet we can become reluctant to show and share our passion because we fear people may not like what we say or be critical of us. Our reluctance to share our passion can also manifest in ways that leave us sharing our passion in unloving ways, where when we have a platform or opportunity. We can ‘overdo’ it by tearing others down to build ourselves up… this is not the way of love, it is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
I am praying for churches around the world, and particularly for our church in Robina to have an intentional rise in identifiable passion, a passion that is fuelled by the Holy Spirit and a passion that expresses the gifts and the fruits of the Holy Spirit. A passion that leaves us unashamed of the good news we have but is acutely aware that this passion is not for our benefit alone. We are to be careful stewards of this passion, it must be visible, but it must reflect the character of God. The only way I know to ensure this is the case is to be filled and filled again with the Holy Spirit and to be aware of the power of God at work in the lives of one another. My prayer for each of you this week is that you may know the passionate intimacy of the Holy Spirit.