Random Blog Clay Feet: May 03, 2008
Feel free to leave your own comments or questions. If you would like to be in contact with me without having it published let me know in your comment and leave your email address and I will not publish that comment.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Passion and Holiness

Passion is a threat to those who want to be in control of others. It is commonly believed that passion must always be under control, and that is true to a certain extent. But this is often extended to imply that passion must be under the control of those “in charge”. Whenever a person becomes passionate about something, those in charge begin to often feel uneasy and keep a wary eye to see if the passion may become an infection that might spread and threaten their influence and dominance over those they have spent so much time and effort putting under their influence.

Passion is an intensifier, not really an emotion of its own. Passion can intensify sexual desires as nearly everyone is well aware. Passion can intensify hunger when some food or drink that one likes is presented in a very tantalizing way, especially when one is already very hungry or thirsty. Passion can energize a person's imagination and animation when they are sharing an interest or describing an experience to a trusted friend. People have passion for art, for music, for beautiful scenery, for exercise, for sports, and even sometimes for work.

Passion is connected to our need to feel satisfied. Sometimes our passion is very misunderstood or misapplied because we or others don't really know what deeper need is feeding our passion. The surface desires often mask the much deeper needs for fulfillment that cause us to engage in passion, and those deeper needs often are very different in appearance than the surface desires. This is the problem with addictions.

Though passion is often misunderstood and even thought by some to never be legitimate, passion is a very important part of our created nature. Our experience of passion is actually just a very small reflection of the enormous reservoir of passion that animates the very heart of our Creator God. But because we are often so afraid of passion we have tended to discount and even deny that God might be full of passion Himself in spite of many revelations of His passion throughout the Bible and history.

The closer we allow our hearts to come into sympathy with the heart of God the more unavoidable will be our exposure to His passions. And the more familiar and affected we become by exposure to God's passions the more our own hearts will become supercharged with sympathetic passions. We will be like transformers that inductively pick up the atmosphere of power by simply being in proximity to the heart of God and will transmit those feelings through our own lives at reduced levels.

But passion threatens the rigidness and structures carefully constructed by men's religious ideas and so Godly passion will always be viewed with suspicion and fear. Nearly every prophet of God has experienced this problem as they conveyed the various messages of God to His people with His passion, but that always ended up inviting trouble for themselves. God's prophets are seldom popular with God's people for very long because God's passions always upset and challenge our religious paradigms and habits. Exposure to the realities of heaven cause conflict with the counterfeit notions of religion that always grow in the heart of humans and it takes humility and repentance to allow the passion of God to melt away our prejudices, fears and false ideas about Him.

Think about whenever you have been around a person who starts to become passionate as they share about some insight or experience they have had in their personal growth journey with God. If you are synchronized with them to some extent in your own pursuit of God you will find their passion to be hopeful and energizing to your soul. But there are also times when you may feel threatened or uncomfortable and want to tone down the passionate expressions a bit. You may start having thoughts that these people are getting too carried away in their ideas about God and need to get back to more practical reality where the rest of us live. But what I think is really happening many times is that we are afraid of our own mediocrity being exposed and may be unwilling to admit that we ourselves are resisting the influence of the Holy Spirit tugging on our own hearts to become conduits of more passion flowing from God.

It might be true that a person can get carried away with passion while trying to relay their own encounters with God. Or maybe that is simply my cautious opinion at this point in my own journey and it may not really be correct. I don't know for sure. I have seen times when my own enthusiasm has tended to blind me to the fact that I have lost the interest of those listening to me and they are simply being polite but have switched off inwardly. I know I am not very good at picking up social clues as to how to relate to people that I try to engage with about spiritual things. But I also believe that much of what holds me back is fear of what others will think about me and so I limit the passion of God flowing through my life in favor of managing my image so others will approve of me.

I suspect that if the true passion of God's love, the passion of the Holy Spirit for God's glory and reputation, begins to break through our rigid lives, and the light and beauty and the attractions of God begin to leak out of our hearts at more intense levels than what we are used to seeing, there is going to be an outcry of warning from people who are afraid of upsetting the status quo and see their religious influence threatened by this new power. Imitation religion has a very strong grip on many hearts and has spent centuries building up networks of structures and control in an effort to satisfy the hungers of the soul while keeping the lid on passion. So when the real God of our soul begins to break into our tidy plans and organizations with displays of passion and power that are very unfamiliar to us many are going to cry, “fanaticism” and declare that all of this enthusiasm is of Satan.

I am also aware that there are movements that engage in much emotionalism while believing it is the real passion of God. It is often supernatural in origin and because of that is assumed to be of God. But just because there is much energy and excitement and religion involved does not mean that we are encountering the authentic passion of the true God. Jesus referred to this problem when He spoke to the woman at the well saying, “The Father is seeking those who will worship Him in both truth and spirit.”

Isn't it strange that passions that promote evil tendencies are so easily accepted and tolerated and even encouraged by the world, but whenever Godly passion begins to transform lives and animate hearts everyone seems to conclude that passion is an evil thing that must be curbed, managed and come under the control of human authorities. Even Christians have little problem engaging in great passion while watching sports or being mesmerized by popular entertainment but are afraid to become exposed to the passion of God. There is actually a very valid reason for this.

Passion is something like lightening. We stand in awe and fear of powerful bolts of lightening thundering in the elements and sometimes causing massive changes in our environment. We many times wish we could harness this enormous power and channel it into what we believe would be better uses by storing it and distributing it through our man-made electrical networks. But so far most attempts to harness the awesome power of lightening have failed to be very effective. We consider lightening very dangerous, and rightly so. But some people have also learned to enjoy these awesome demonstrations of raw power in a strong electrical storm while respecting its dangers.

I believe that God's passion may be something a little similar to a very powerful electrical storm. It is very clearly out of our control and yet demands our attention and respect. But even more amazing is that God is looking for people who are willing to become something like lightening rods willing to become conduits of awesome amounts of His passion. But instead of simply siphoning off all that power to the ground like typical lightening rods do, God wants these people to become glowing displays of His glory while being exposed to close encounters with His presence within their hearts. He want to make them experiments of the mighty power of His grace as examples to attract others who dare to enter the power zone of glory.

We are faced with a very serious choice when it comes to God's passion. We can continue to live in fear and avoidance of God's passion to give preference to our man-made religious apparatus that puts greater emphasis on intellectual truths and avoids emotions and heart-based transformation. Or we can take the terrifying risk of exposure to the presence of the most powerful, frightening, exhilarating encounter that is ever offered to human beings and become exhibitions of glory and grace completely out of control as far as men are concerned.

Being out of control is considered to be wrong by many religious people. But control is one of the biggest problems we have created with our false ideas about religion. We have misjudged God and the way He runs the universe and relates to all His created beings by believing He is into control. We like to believe in a God who is in control but what we really mean by that is that we want Him to force the will of others and control circumstances to make things work out good for our lives.

But control is anti-freedom and God values freedom far more than even obedience, as strange as that may sound. For if obedience is not offered in perfect freedom then it cannot be filled with love. And love-motivated obedience is the only kind of obedience that is really genuine. Every other motivation for obedience only produces counterfeits, and God is unwilling to accept any imitations.

Love is a far more powerful motivation of the heart than any of us can ever imagine. God is love. It is not something that He just does or something He can switch on and off. Love is the very description of God that is always there, always active and all-pervasive in everything He does, thinks and demonstrates. Passion is like the voltage behind love that empowers it to move throughout the circuit of the whole universe and return to its Source. So to avoid passion is to deny the very power that moves the very essence of God – love. That is not a very good choice in my opinion.

When we ask for the power of God to fill our lives, our churches and our world, I'm afraid most of us have little idea what we are really asking for. What I suspect is that too often our idea of power that we crave is a power to force others to agree with our ideas of truth. We want power to work miracles so that we will have more credibility, so that others will believe we have the right connection with God more than others do. We desire power mostly for very self-centered reasons to justify our claims to have the truth and pressure others to believe our claims. But very few people are passionate about bringing the real truth about God's character into a world where nearly everyone is afraid of Him based on all the lies promoted by religious people and non-religious alike.

I just listened to a very enlightening sermon by Craig Hill reviewing the subject of Holy verses Common that I received last month. He points out the great danger we are living in by not understanding the immense importance of separating what is holy and what is common in our lives before being exposed to the power of God. He rightly states that every time there has been an atmosphere of power among God's people there are also instances where people literally die from improper exposure to that power because they failed to respect the dangers inherent in power.

It is exactly like not respecting high voltage electrical lines either in our homes or elsewhere. Most people understand the “rules” for respecting electricity and so are able to enjoy its benefits without harm. But whenever we begin doing things like poking metal objects into power sockets while being grounded – mixing power (holy) with common – we suffer very drastic and sometimes fatal results. If this continues on a regular basis the only safe thing to do is either turn off the power or reduce it so low that people only get a little buzz whenever they improperly touch the wires.

I have sensed over the past few weeks a growing urgency to become more aware in my own life of how I am allowing the holy and common to intermingle improperly in my life and make me vulnerable to being “grounded”. If God cannot trust me with very much power it is most likely because I am too connected to ground in some areas of my life that would endanger me if I were exposed to the power I ask for. It is the mercy and grace of God that keeps me insulated from His power and passion, not His resistance to sharing Himself and His Spirit through me. I should be thankful that He has not yet sent the power and take it as a warning to listen more carefully and act more intentionally to separate myself from any connections to “ground”.

I do want the power of God to use me and make me an effective transformer for His glory. And I want to be prepared for that encounter by cooperating with the Holy Spirit sent to heal me and repair my wiring in preparation for higher current levels of His glory. I want to become free of all fear of what others think about me when they cannot understand the unusual passion flowing through me that may make many around me, or even myself, uncomfortable. There is sure to be suspicion, false assumptions and reminders of my many faults and mistakes in order to discourage me from getting any “hotter”. But I want to keep my focus on God, the true object of holiness, and become more holy and dedicated to Him.

The word holy has nothing to do with being better or more righteous or pious than others. The word has to do exclusively with being dedicated to a purpose or a person, just like a telephone line might be dedicated to a FAX machine. I highly recommend getting the series on Holy verses Common from Family Foundations Intl. for some real insights on this subject.

I too am afraid of passion many times and feel threatened by it. But when I analyze my motives for those fears I realize that it is usually tied to the issue of control and fear of the unknown. At the same time I yearn for more passion in my own life and am aware that it has been stifled largely by fear of what others might think of me. I am even sometimes jealous of others who have more freedom of expression and long for the day when I can feel free of the fears and inhibitions that enslave my heart. Yes, I want enormous passion in my life and I also want it under the guidance and influence of the Spirit of the ultimate Source of all passion. I sense inherently that experiencing that kind of encounter with the power Source of passion will be the most fulfilling moment of all my existence. And in those moments of total abandonment for the glory of the One worthy of all worship and praise, I will also begin to see the very face of God.