Well, it’s pretty clear to us all now that an election is
just around the corner. The billboards are out on the highways, the yard signs
are out in the gardens and sidewalks, the activists are knocking on doors or
handing out information to the public, and the phone calls have started asking
for your support of a particular candidate. There is one thing that the
electoral season is bound to raise up in people, and that is passion. We have
seen it on our TV’s in the papers and heard it on the radio. We read about or listen
to people speaking and demonstrating passionately for, or about, a particular
candidate or policy. Whether it is the top of the ticket or lower down the
public office ballot, those seeking to be elected try to demonstrate the depth
of their commitment to being the person to win your vote. Some of that rhetoric
has unfortunately been demeaning and destructive, not so much about policy but
about personality or about physical characteristics of the opposing candidate.
In all these cases, there is a degree of passion behind asking for your vote.
What are you really passionate about? The question was one I recall being asked in a new testament seminar one day in seminary and that set me thinking. I remember being struck by a whole dimension of faith that I hadn’t really considered before – the notion that God is really passionate about us! The word passionate is derived from the Greek word that can be translated as ‘emotion,’ ‘passion’ or ‘sacrifice,’ which in turn derives from the Greek word meaning, ‘to suffer’ or ‘endure evil.’ Emotion, sacrifice and suffering, all three deeply interwoven, for to care passionately about someone means you are ready to suffer for them, to make personal sacrifices to secure their happiness.
Such is the love of God for us. John in his first letter has this to say, ‘In this is love, not that we loved God but that God loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10). It is not just some vague feeling of benevolence or a general concern and affection; it is a passionate consuming love that gave all, even his own Son, to restore our broken relationship with him, to draw us closer to himself. It is the ‘love divine all loves excelling,’ spoken of by the hymn writer, the love that will not let us go.’ We’re not used to thinking of God in terms of high emotion – or, at least I’m not – but we should be, for the wonder of the gospel is not merely that God loves us but that he loves us passionately! Have you realized how much God loves you? Do you sometimes forget how much God passionately cares about you?
Perhaps this can be your prayer this week? ‘Living God may your love flow to me, reaching down to bless and within to bring joy. May your love flow through me, reaching upwards in worship and outwards in service. May your love kindle my love, to the glory of your name. Amen.
Shalom to you my friend,