A Plea for Passion

Elvira Tovstiga

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The Puritan preacher, Richard Baxter, when accused of being too plain in attacking the sins of the so-called English clergy, responded thus: “If the ministers of America had sinned in Latin, I might have written in Latin; but as they have sinned in English, I have written in English.” Plainness of speech was needful in his day, and it is most certainly needful in our day. Without it, nominal Christianity may never awaken from her nonchalant dream of “moderated religion.” In C. S. Lewis’s words, “a moderated religion is as good as no religion at all.” It is synonymous with the spiritually wretched condition of lukewarmness that looks regardful in the eyes of man but is extremely repulsive to the heart of God. In fact, “while open sin slays its hundreds, nice, respectable lukewarmness slays its tens of thousands” (Watson). The devil, by reaping all the moderates, has gathered in a huge harvest of souls in the name of Christianity! Oh, the shame of it–hell filling up with souls for which Christ has passionately spilled His blood! What is the remedy? What does Christ’s passion demand? Nothing less than a passionate Christianity!

We must sink down on our knees and plead, plead, plead for passion! The battle is constant because the tendency to cool off is constant. Are we not sometimes too cold? Do we not lack expression of soul, of feeling, of fervency? Do we not need a larger throbbing heart of love and affection for God? Do we not suffer from spiritual heart fibrillations and spiritual anemia? Is there not too little trembling at God’s Word? Is there not precious little panting after God? Is it not seldom that we cry out for a greater fulness of His Spirit? God save us from a passionless “Christianity”! Unignitable “Christians” are no Christians at all. They may be considered “good” moral people, but when it comes down to heart-reality, they are (using someone’s fitting remark), “as careful not to be filled with the Spirit as they are not to be drunk with wine.” Both seem to be conditions of excess to them. There is no fire, no heat, no “burning love divine filling all their soul’s desire.” And when Christ descends in His glory with a passionate shout, they will not rise to meet Him in the air. Their listless hearts are too heavily attached to this earth. Their sluggish heartbeat does not match His excited heartbeat. He will not know them. If we want Him to know us on that great day, it will be, as Bro. Layne preached, by the passion we possess. There is something wrong when the world surpasses Christians in passion. There is something wrong when the worldly street musician rises to the occasion and translates his passion into action more than we do in our street meetings.

There is something wrong when a salesman offers his temporal goods with more passion than we do in offering God’s eternal salvation. There is something wrong when the athlete is more passionate in pursuing a ball than we are in pursuing Christ, when his feet fly on the soccer field, but ours drag in our walk with God. There is something wrong when the scholar in his academic pursuits is more devoted than we are in our spiritual pursuits. Let’s face it: earthly quests should not outrun the heavenly ones.

Satan will try to tell us that our salvation is a “secret matter of the heart,” yet the psalmist says, “Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him and it shall be very tempestuous round about him” (Psalm 50:3). If the fiery Jesus has verily come into our heart, it will not remain a secret, neither will it be questionable whether He has come or not come. His holy presence in our soul will extend into our thoughts, our words, our actions, and even our dress. It should take but one passing look for people to see that God has come with fire and tempest. What good is it to sing, “Jesus lives in me” if we do not let Jesus act out His life through us? How long can we disregard or smother His intensely passionate feelings without actually extinguishing the life of Jesus out of us? Our indifferent attitudes, our inexact obedience, our lightness of speech, our skimpy prayers, our minding the things of the flesh–passion would fix all. It would keep away the riffraff and cut our temptations in half. Everyone would know from a distance what we are all about. It is to our shame if this is not the case. We cannot hide beneath personality traits: one may weep hot tears; the other may shout the high praises of God; one may leap with joy; the other may bow in deep adoration before Him that sits on the throne. It is the same passion shown in different ways.

Churchiness, formality, spiritual dullness, laziness, carelessness, indifference– these are passion-snuffers. We have spoken plainly and directly. There must be a response: “Come, thou consuming fire of the Holy Ghost. Devour every dampening spirit. Blow on us and ignite us anew, that by our passionate Christianity the world may know that thou hast come. Amen.”

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