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Posted by Sarah Bourns , 03 June 2012 · 2781 views

My generation (those of us in our teens, 20's, and 30's) has informally been dubbed the "Passion Generation." Evidently, we're full of fire and zeal and a longing to change the world!

I'm exceedingly expectant that because of this great passion, today's young adults will affect major changes in issues of poverty, trafficking, creation care, disease eradication, racial reconciliation, reaching the lost and more.
But passion alone can't accomplish long-term fruit.
Movements that are just fueled by righteous indignation and fervor can quickly burn out, or their focus gets distorted, or their leaders go crazy, or they don't actually accomplish anything except hyping people up.

I've seen too many of my friends and students, not to mention myself, be quick to jump on every train that says it's off to make a difference. It's just so exciting to take a stand on something that matters!
But if we're honest, it's also trendy to be earth conscious, it's popular to talk about social justice, it's fashionable to wear Tom's shoes, and famous people everywhere are giving their money to clean water and AIDS prevention. It's all the rage really.
And, don't get me wrong, those are all GOOD THINGS. Praise God that more and more people are finding creative ways to engage our society in helping a world in need.

I just wonder if deep change and lasting impact comes that easily and if it really looks that cool.

We live in a culture that promises quick change, and that we can look good while we're at it... Like this on facebook and you'll feed a hungry family for a week. Wear this shirt and you'll help overthrow an evil war monger. Buy these shoes for yourself and you'll provide shoes for a child in poverty.
Yes, we can get pretty pumped up about things like this (and maybe more of us should be). But is that all we've been called to as followers of Jesus? Is there more to being passionate about a cause than donning a wristband?

No one can deny that Jesus was pretty passionate. He threw tables. He drew crowds. He yelled at hypocrites. He started a movement.
But around Easter time when we speak of the "Passion of Christ" what do we actually mean?
We're referring to Jesus' deep suffering, his anguish and sacrifice and surrender. His willingness to die.
Jesus' passion was much more than emotion and enthusiasm; it was gut-wrenching abandonment to the will of His Father, no matter the price he would pay.
In fact, the first definition of the word "passion" in my dictionary is "the sufferings of Jesus Christ from the Last Supper until his crucifixion" (Encarta Dictionary).

When Jesus called his disciples to join him in his movement, he openly spoke about the cost of discipleship:
-- Deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow me
-- Give away all that you own and be my disciple
--The way is narrow and few find it
-- Hate your father and mother and sister and brother and come follow me
--Foxes have holes and birds have nests but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head
--Die to yourself

It's no surprise that many people stopped following Jesus when his teachings got too difficult to swallow or he required more than they wanted to give.
Jesus even asked Peter at one point if he also wanted to leave. And Peter answered "To whom would we go? You alone have the words of eternal life." (John 6:68)
Ask every one of the 12 disciples (most of whom died for the sake of Christ) if it was worth it to join Jesus, and they would say absolutely yes! The cost was great, but the reward was even greater.
Their lives had no other meaning apart from being caught up in the plan and purpose of Jesus.

These men were the first in our Christian heritage to be part of the unending line of passionate disciples who "loved not their lives even unto death" (Revelation 12:11).
History and present-day missiology confirm that most major advancements of the Gospel into dark places have been fueled by suffering and martyrdom.
And quite frankly, that unnerves me, because I do desperately want to see the unreached experience Christ's Truth and Light. I would even say I'm pretty passionate about that. But does my passion also include an expectation, perhaps even a longing, to suffer? Can I agree with Paul who said, "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death" (Philippians 3:10)?
Paul's main (or only?) objective in suffering is that he might KNOW CHRIST.
He is more passionate about a Person, and less about a cause.
His desire above all is to draw near to Jesus himself, more so even than bringing others near to Jesus. He would willingly and joyfully suffer because of his love for Christ, not just because of his love for people and especially not just for love of a movement.

I'm learning, slowly but surely, that passion about anything less than the Person of Jesus and his glory can easily fade, disappoint, drain me, or accomplish very little. But as I fix my eyes on Christ and come to know him more, he fuels me with his vision and purpose for reaching his lost and hurting world.
So may we, the Passion Generation, not hesitate to count the cost, take up our cross, and follow Jesus Christ himself, who is infinitely more worthy than the most worthy cause. He alone has the words of eternal life.

  • Matthew DeCoste, Cheryl Umbel, Charlotte Bonck and 9 others like this

Sarah Baker
Jun 04 2012 02:03 PM
Amen! Great thoughts.
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Living water
Jun 04 2012 04:03 PM
I like this. What you point out about the cross is so needed today. Jesus said, "the poor you will always have with you". I say this to remind us it is not our 'job' feed the poor, help house people, or put clothes on people's backs. Our job as disciples of Jesus, is to be salt and light in a world full of darkness. We should start each day shining up our lamps in prayer, giving ourselves willing sacrifices, not conformed to the world but transformed. My pastor teaches we shouldn't give to be seen, but we should be seen giving. If we are carrying our cross, sharing, healing and deliverance will be the result. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us!
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Angela Sawtell
Jun 05 2012 08:49 AM
Great thoughts, Sarah. I particularly appreciated your comment about Paul being more passionate about a Person, and less about a cause.
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Thanks for taking the time to write down your thoughts, Sarah. May our love and passion for Jesus grow daily!
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Your observation is right on in the statement - "Jesus’ passion was much more than emotion and enthusiasm; it was gut-wrenching abandonment to the will of His Father, no matter the price he would pay"

Indeed - it is about dying daily so we can live continually in the eternal life of Yeshua!! A divine paradox.

It is in understanding this paradox - intimacy with Him and in Him creates lasting impact.

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I also liked -

"Paul’s main (or only?) objective in suffering is that he might KNOW CHRIST."
"He is more passionate about a Person, and less about a cause."

Thanks for the post.

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Patti Slauson
Jun 06 2012 10:29 AM
Great post.
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Joan Phillips
Jun 06 2012 12:14 PM
Dear Sarah, Your post is very timely. I copied it and sent it in a message to a friend on FB. She is 25, has a husband in Afghanistan, a year-old baby, and is disillusioned by the injustices of the world. She recently posted on her FB status: There is no god." My heart broke. When I messaged her about it, she named several reasons why she believes that, such as hate speech against gays by Christians, the loss of two uncles last week, and the injustice she sees in the world. She asked me, "Is God a sadistic being who enjoys making us suffer?" We've been having long conversations through the FB message medium about this subject. She said although she doesn't believe "anymore" she is open to hear about God. So when I saw your post, I thought it would be just what she needed to hear. Please pray for Athena, who was raised in Los Angeles by immigrant parents from India, with Hindu upbringing. She needs the hope of Jesus. Thanks! And keep on writing.
Joan Phillips
The Alliance
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Matthew DeCoste
Jun 07 2012 08:56 AM
Loved it! Right on.
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