Day 51: Living with Passion, Purpose & Meaning (Acts 21:27-22:29)
Today’s Passage: Acts 21:27-22:29
More and more we are being told to live with passion. To live with meaning and purpose.
It seems that this sentiment takes at least two possible paths.
One is that people work at their jobs, and then pursue their passions outside of work.
Another is where people want it all to intersect in their jobs. Consider our desire for meaning and purpose and marry that to our work. You know that part of your life where you spend some 40, 50, 60+ hours a week. With this sort of expectation, we can easily become discontent with our jobs.
Yet the question to start with is, “What is your passion?”
This is a big question, and you might wonder why I bring this up as we read about Paul being arrested.
Because, when you are truly passionate about something, you don’t let obstacles get in your way.
Paul is facing some obstacles. He is under arrest. People so dislike him and his message that they are lying. He has done nothing wrong. It doesn’t matter. A riot ensues. They want him dead.
The Romans save him by binding him in chains. Paul’s reaction? He wants to talk to the people.
Why? His passion. He wants them to know Jesus.
Just pause and soak that in—in the middle of this bedlam—he wants them to know Jesus.
What is the lesson for me today? It has to do with what my passion is, and the obstacles I face.
If my passion is sharing Jesus, then in the United States and many western cultures today, I’m going to face pressure as a Jesus follower. Consider just two.
The first is that I am to be quiet…I am told, “faith is to be private”, but that is a lie. Faith is to be lived and lived in public. There is no divide between what is sacred and what is secular—it is all God’s. And through the work and person of Jesus Christ—God is redeeming all His world.
The second is that when I speak…I can be quickly judged and told that I am offending others. Now to be honest, there are times I wince at howI speak. My speech is not seasoned enough with grace. Yet if I continue to be honest, I need to ask if I am not speaking because I lack sufficient grace in my speech—or because I want people to think well of me. Am I not speaking because I don’t want them to think me a bigot?
I don’t need to be threatened with flogging to keep quiet.
So then, what is the lesson for me today?
It goes back to Paul, beaten and chained on the steps of Fortress Antonia. His passion is front and center.
He wants people to know God. He knows we can only know the Father through the Son. His defense of himself is the proclamation that Jesus Christ is Risen, and that he is following the Risen Lord Jesus.
So how is the Scripture challenging me today?
Answer: in a way it has before. It is challenging me with the question of whether I love God and love people. Is that my passion?
I am not facing what Paul faced. Yet, in a truly tolerant society, ideas can be discussed openly, conversations can take place, minds can be energized, and hearts engaged—and in the end—God in His sovereignty and mercy would move to those who seek Him.
However, our society is becoming much less tolerant. Compliance is the new order of the day. Silence by Jesus’ followers is becoming the new norm.
Yet the Scriptures today challenge me. Do I long that everyone will know Jesus, even if the general response of people will be less than positive?
My answer to my own question—I am working on it. It is often not my first reaction. I do better in foreign countries that in my own village—God forgive me.
The Scripture today, presents a real-life example of this issue for all of us—and here is something interesting—if we can each learn to Love God and Love People—if this becomes our passion—then integrating our passion into our lives so we have meaning—well, it’s done!
What do you think? What is your passion? Is it, can it be, to Love God and Love People?