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My life has been characterized by a long and winding quest for passion. There were seasons when I pursued it vigorously. There were seasons when I tried to wrestle it into submission. I have cut it loose to run wild. I have cursed God for giving me this wild horse and then demanding that I keep it in the stable (at least that’s how it felt to me). Most recently, I have come to understand and appreciate passion more fully. The truth is, I was made to live a passionate life. We all are.

But what is passion? The passion that I am talking about occurs when I experience something with my physical senses, my soul and my spirit simultaneously. It is when I experience life with every facet of my being. It is that feeling of being completely alive. We were made tripartite beings – body, soul and spirit. Therefore, it only makes sense that this desire for holistic engagement would burn in us.

Before I walked with Christ, I felt the edges of this elusive life of passion most acutely in moments of revelry. My country is the home of carnival and in my younger days, I enjoyed it thoroughly.  As I danced with crowds of jubilant celebrants through the streets there were moments when I could feel d music in meh soul and it was just pure movement to the rhythm, eyes closed, a blissful smile on my face and no care for who might be watching. This also explains our fascination with sex. Making love (what a wonderful phrase) includes touch, taste, sight, sound and smell; all five senses fully engaged. It is also intensely emotional and deeply spiritual. Yet, there is another factor that makes the loving sexual union of two souls such a powerful experience – it is a shared experience.

We are meant to live in a shared experience of life, with God and others. The sharing of the experience multiplies the passion. I have given up my life of revelry, but I have discovered something better (I would have never thought that was possible back in the days though) – worship! For me, there are few other experiences that are more passionate than corporate worship. I’m not talking about absent-mindedly mouthing some lyrics while shifting from one foot to the other. I’m talking about eyes closed, eruptions of praise from the depths of your soul as you encounter the heart-rending presence of God together with a community of beautiful worshippers. Another worship experience that is becoming one of my favourite passion-moments is watching sunsets with God while listening to soft instrumental worship music. (Cue tears of bliss.)

There is something oxymoronic about passionless Christians. If Christ is that good and the abundant life that He promises so abundant, then shouldn’t that move us deeply? Shouldn’t the love of God be something more captivating than a theological fact? It is unfortunate that some of us have interpreted “if you love me you will obey my commands” to mean that the mere act of obeying is the complete fulfillment of love. What a travesty. This type of thinking pervades our world and has created a soul-less robotic church that quite frankly does more damage than good. A better interpretation of Christ’s words would be that when our souls are filled with the love of Christ, loving actions (obeying my commands) will naturally follow.

This was after all how Christ lived. How many times did he heal people or feed the crowds because He was moved with compassion? Jesus was not an automaton, woodenly following His Father’s orders. Jesus was passionate! There is a reason why Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion is called the passion of Christ. It was gritty. It was visceral. It was emotionally taxing. His very flesh was violated. His soul was tortured and the communion of His spirit with His Father was interrupted. Yet, Jesus persevered through it all for the joy set before Him – for the love He carried in his heart for His family to be united. On another occasion, He whipped merchants selling cattle and doves and overturned the tables of moneychangers in the temple. His disciples explained His behaviour with the saying, “Passion for God’s house will consume me.” Jesus was consumed with passion the bible says.

So, what are we to do about this soul-less Christianity that many of us are living? God has His ways to reach our hearts. The Christian mystic Simone Weil wrote, “Two things can pierce the human heart – beauty and affliction.” Richard Rohr echoes the same sentiment by repeatedly pointing to two things that have the power to awaken us to God – wonder and suffering. Both are God’s way of awakening us to a passionate love-affair with Him. Choose one.

Copyright 2022, Matik Nicholls. All rights reserved.

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