There’s a lot of passion on social media, or at least, there’s a lot of anger and indignation, baiting and posturing that seems like political passion. Real passion about an issue is rare. It is recognisable by both its willingness to understand that not everyone agrees, and a determination to persuade, not by belittling or attacking the other “side,” but by telling the truth in a heartfelt way. It is never about personalities. It is not even about the integrity or otherwise of its proponents, because an argument that holds weight knows that people are fallible. It is about facts, it is about the application of those facts, and it is about seeing consequences that reach further than tomorrow.
Let’s take the environment as an example. The key, of course, is vested interests. People who are passionate about profits are going to be argue till they are blue (or possibly orange) in the face that fracking, drilling for oil in national parks and under ice floes, are good for everyone. Because they are good for them. People who are passionate about saving the planet’s ecosystems, husbanding habitats and saving as many species as possible, know that our vested interests are in the consequences of what we do now, and are about generations further down the line. Real passion is never short-sighted enough to think that it is about personal gain.
What does that have to do with our passion for the gospel? Well it means that if we are truly passionate about Christ, about the will of God, we are in it for the long haul, and we are not out for what our ministry can do for us. For this reason, I am usually wary of any ministry named for its founder/s because it isn’t looking far enough ahead, for one thing. If we truly believe that the Kingdom of God is needed on earth, then we will make way for it, we will do every task allotted to us with eternity in mind, not counting the cost. And this, I find, is not a popular teaching.
In a Church that struggles to differentiate itself from either capitalism, far right-wing politics, or both, being anything other than self-seeking is difficult. We tend, in the West, to define counter-cultural church as tithing some of our profit to a developing world charity, so that we can sit in our chrome coffee shop eating chocolate cake with gold leaf on (yes I have seen this, yes I have done this, and felt sick doing it) without feeling any guilt. We paid at the office and that’s that. But this is not to be counter cultural, this is to go along with the feel good “we do our little bit” edge of capitalism that dulls our conscience and tells us that as long as we do a little, all is well. The massive chunks that fall into other pockets don’t then matter. And I am not just talking about money here.
When was the last time you heard a sermon preached on “Even the little you have will be taken away from you?” or on Paul describing apostles (including himself) as “the scum of the earth,”? The theme of seeking out the poor and taking the good news to them, giving away everything to help others, of real altruism in a hoarding world, runs through the Gospels like Brighton through rock. It’s so plain that we are trying really, really hard if we miss it.
And yes, it turns out that this is something I’m really passionate about! I think that God puts on our hearts, issues we want to shout out about, and people that we want to help. I think these things that make our blood rise and our hearts beat faster are inscribed on our spiritual innards, and if we ignore them or push them away, we might be missing part of our calling.
Courses and books that help us discern God’s will for our lives are always popular, and yet, it is looking at what makes you passionate that will most likely give you the best clue to your ministry, to the difference you could make in this life that you might ever get.
Text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt, photo from Pixabay