Monday, January 10, 2011

Bizzare Passions or Godly Passions?

... Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face... (Ezek 1:28).

Phil Johnson's post today at Pyromaniacs is a real gem: "Bizarre Passions of Worldly Culture, and Why They are Incompatible with a True Passion for God's Glory." (I miss hearing Phil in-person at GraceLife each Lord's Day... though this is not to say I regret where the Lord has since placed me!).

I mainly liked his post for two reasons. First, it has a really long title and - maybe I'm reading too much in the 16th and 17th centuries - but, I do confess to harboring an odd affection for long titles. Second, it nails why so many today, even in the Church, feel simultaneously over-extended and under-satisfied. An answer is extraordinarily simple - we are engrossed in passion for the wrong things. Or as Mr. Johnson has helpfully articulated:
There's plenty of passion in the world today. Unfortunately, a lot of it is evil passion—lust, anger, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, self-love, and so on. Even whatever good feelings there are in this world are misspent—squandered on trivial things: sports, entertainment, recreation, and the pursuit of personal happiness. We're expected to be deliriously excited about things like that; and we're generally discouraged from taking serious things seriously.
That last sentence is worth the price of admission... we too often buy the assumption that serious matters are not to be taken seriously! And this cultural pressure accounts for why many pastors and leaders in wider evangelicalism act like clowns and why you leave the "services" of their "churches" thinking, "Wow.... I may actually be dumber and less spiritual now than I was an hour ago." (Unfortunately, I have had that exact thought more than once). It is especially grievous when we who profess Christ squander our passion:
It is clear from the Old Testament alone that passion for the glory of God is one of the key evidences of authentic faith. In fact, a yearning to see and perceive God's glory is perhaps the truest expression of saving faith and genuine love for God.
Even more, God's glory is the very reason why we were given passions in the first place!
In other words, not only is God's glory inherently worthy of all our affections, it's the very thing our affections were created for in the first place—and it's also the only thing that can ultimately satisfy our most basic urges and longings.

A lot of this life's sins and frustrations would be eliminated if we could just bear that in mind.
As I begin to stare-down 2011, I honestly would prefer a little less sin and frustration than I dealt with in 2010. So, if I were to venture one resolution for this year - though I do not really believe in them, well except for these - it would be to take some of my bizarre passions out back and beat 'em senseless. Then, come back to the living room and light a fire under the godly passion for His glory that His Spirit has graciously birthed in me. Christ created us and died on our behalf that we might rejoice in His glory. Let's not trade His gift for the bizarre delirium of the world.