I like passionate people. Honestly I do… but I also find them a little bit annoying. Sometimes I talk to someone who just loves hockey and quite frankly I don’t relate, but I’m polite about it. I know that other people feel the same about me when I talk about our crazy family life with foster kids and my endless stats about the importance of it. People are very polite with me as well. (Thank you.)
There are all sorts of passionate people too. There are the guys who paint their faces for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (or worse their fat flabby bellies), and then there are those who quietly love their workshop and you’d never know that they are master craftsmen until you get them going about which wood is best for carving. Clearly the painted bellies are more annoying than the quiet carpenter. (I have people in mind as I write this!)
Passion isn’t bad – in fact it is very good. But this is the thing, when we are passionate about Jesus and Church and faith, there are more effective and less effective ways to be passionate. I’m all for those people who wear their faith on their sleeve (literally… they still have their WWJD bracelet from the 1990’s), and they do have an impact. I would think they are similar to the woman in Gospels who anoints the feet of Jesus after bursting in on the party, there is definitely a place for the passionate, emotional actions of the profoundly forgiven.
That being said, I think there is also a profoundly passionate story in the “minor” role that a man like Joseph of Arimathea plays in the burial of Jesus after His crucifixion. Think about it – Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Sanhedrin – the religious leaders who opposed the concept of the resurrection of the dead (they were in for a surprise). He was apparently wealthy and had his own tomb prepared. Not only that, he was important; he was able to gain an audience with Pilate to request that Jesus’s body be given into his care for burial. I can almost guarantee that he was no less passionate than the woman at Jesus’s feet. It was just expressed differently.
When it comes to our children, my goal is that they are passionately in love with Jesus. I mean profoundly grateful for the forgiveness of their sins, their salvation from Hell, for the gift of the Holy Spirit. I want them to love reading their Bibles and to pray and worship with all their heart and mind. I want them to be a witness for Jesus, their friends should notice a difference in their lives and know what that difference is. I want them to give lots of time to the church in service, so much that it costs them big time.
I don’t want them to be so in love with Jesus that they are weird. I am not saying that God won’t ever ask them to do something seemingly ridiculous like stand on the monkey bars at school and sing “Amazing Grace” but I do want them to know that Christians should be normal people. Let me tell you why. I find that when I look at the lives of Christians who are normal, approachable and genuinely nice, I see far more fruit than the “Facebook Christians” who have to post these ridiculously in-your-face memes about their faith, and often other’s lack thereof.
Please, please hear me! I am passionately in love with Jesus, emotionally so, and I want my children to know that about me and see it in my life, but I also want them to know that weeping in private over lost souls is more appropriate than making a public spectacle of their faith.
I want my kids to have a solid internal resolve of who God is and who they are as a result. I want them to be intelligent thoughtful Christians. I don’t want them to have a private faith, but neither do I want them to have a wacky faith. The reality is a “John the Baptist” comes along perhaps a few times in a generation but the majority of our kids won’t be like that. They will be teachers and business people, parents and a few will even become pastors, but few are going to don camel hides and eat locusts.
We need to help our children understand that to have a conviction doesn’t mean we need to tell everyone our conviction and even less expect that all people should feel that same conviction. For example, we don’t have satellite. I recently told me aunt that and she [loudly] proclaimed that she wouldn’t know what to do with herself if she didn’t have TV. In my heart I rolled my eyes and thought of a few things that she could do with her time, but I didn’t say it! I’ve come a long way!
When Seth was in grade one he asked an EA what she was fasting from during the month of prayer and fasting, which everyone knows is January! She replied, rather tersely, that “She didn’t fast.” He
came home and exclaimed to his mom, “I knew she didn’t love Jesus, but I didn’t know she didn’t even fast!” (A lot of negatives, I know.) I like that kind of innocence and I think most people would have grace for a little guy like that regardless of their personal faith position.
Our problem is that we have kids who aren’t growing out of that kind of thinking… we may even have a few adults like that. We need to learn the power of being extraordinarily normal. We don’t back down when confronted. And we take a stand on issues where a stand needs to be taken! But we don’t have to carry crosses up and down Main Street Steinbach as if that will somehow convert people by the pure spectacle of it.
Teach your kids to passionately love Jesus and how to actually win people to Him – usually by being kind, nice and at least a little bit normal.
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