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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pride and Passion

I admit I am passionate about certain, possibly many things. I suspect you may be as well. I don’t consider passion to be a fault; to the contrary, I love and admire all those who are passionate for the things of Christ. So why does it seem that passion always precedes calamity? Could it be that calamity is certain when our passion is self-centered? Is this not pride?

Why would Bible study lead to an apologetic argument? Could it be caused by a passion for our own understanding?

23 Comments:

Blogger dorsey said...

Good question. I think passion is like many other things: useful in the proper state of mind, disastrous when misapplied.

I tend to equate 'passion' with 'zeal.' As such, it is accompanied by the suggestion of action. If I am passionate about fishing (I am), then I will go fishing. If I am passionate about Jesus (I want to be), then I will take steps to understand Him. These are fine, but, as your question suggests, there's a line that gets crossed by well-meaning people who, in their desire to see an outcome, lose sight of the limits of their understanding.

I may be passionate for the Kingdom of God, and eager to take action to bring it about. But aside from what is revealed in scripture, what I envision may be light-years off the mark. In this instance, my desire to be faithful is misplaced by my faulty assumption.

Likewise, many sincere people are possessed of enormous passion for 'the faith.' Because such zeal demands action, and action naturally envisions an outcome, we have a great number of people who have been deceived (by some mincy, 16th-century frenchman, no doubt) into believing they possess truth and that their contribution to the Kingdom is to defend it at all cost.

The problem with passion (and the pride that derails it) is our inclination to self-identify with the thing for which we are zealous. If I am a fan of, say, the Phillies, then any disparagement of my team is an insult to me. Likewise, any criticism of my theological system (I try not to have one) is interpreted as an attack on not just 'the faith,' but myself, as well. It is a breeding ground for insecurity and self-righteousness.

Examining the progression, it's difficult to see just where pride creeps into the dynamic. I suppose that's why it's so easy to be blind to it.

6/10/2008 07:38:00 AM  
Blogger Another Voice said...

For many years I have equated my boundless passion with pride and folly. I LONG for the day I experience it no more - at least not in the way I experience it. Fortunately, it is fleeting. :)

With regard to theology, I find the passion that is expressed in action is far more tolerable and less damaging than the passion expressed in study/discussion - i.e., putting what am passionate about, like serving or encouraging others, into practice rather than telling others that they should be doing it. Christians often equate "conviction" with "passion" in theology. I don't think that is bad - as long as you're doing it, not just telling it. Convictions are meant to be lived out, but I often get around that calling by defending (or "preaching") them. For me, it is self-centered because of the self-deception I am practicing. A defensive stance becomes necessary, not because I might feel passion for the subject at hand and it requires defense, but because the error in not following my convictions may be exposed.

For example: (hypothetical, of course)

I am convinced that evangelism is something every disciple of Christ should practice in every walk of life. Everytime I get the "call" to do it, I just can't. I get tongue-tied, terror struck, cowardly, whatever.

So I study it out. I learn so much, I decide to write a book about it. I start a blog and tell everyone about this great conviction and encourage them to read my book. I start doing speaking engagements - even in other countries! One day someone in the crowd stands up and asks me for an example scenario of how I led someone to Christ. Uhhh....

How do you think I would react?

"Let me show you a passage from the Bible!"

Missy

6/10/2008 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Dorsey I agree that passion, like all things, has its place and though I might make a distinction between passion and zeal I would certainly agree they are closely tied.

I think your last paragraph might well identify the problem as a misplaced passion and/or zeal. If we identify more closely with our systems of theology than we do with Christ then our passion is centered on our own understanding and not centered on the things of Christ.

We’re praying for you brother.

Missy I think I understand your point. We should be doers of the word and not hearers only but certainly not tellers of what to do while we’re not doing it! ;-)

6/10/2008 06:01:00 PM  
Blogger Another Voice said...

:D

6/10/2008 06:55:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

I always liked Calamity. Talk about passion! It's just a good thing Wild Bill was patient enough to wait around. And he had such a nice calming influence on her, too. ;)

6/11/2008 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

HaHaHaHa Bill! Too funny!

6/11/2008 02:02:00 PM  
Blogger curious servant said...

Passion can be an emotion, or an obsession. Good or bad.

Secretly we know if our passion comes from God or from ourselves. There is a feeling of goodness when it comes from God, even when it is scary.

I think that the heart tells us truer things than our minds. If we listen carefully.
Of course, I may be so full of myself that I really don't know what I am talking about, that I just want to sound wise... but the truth is, when I think more than I feel, that is when I get into trouble.

6/12/2008 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Will thanks so much for adding your wisdom. I totally agree with you concerning the head and heart (thinking and feeling). I think that most often God reveals the Truth in our heart and it takes our head a while to catch up though I know understanding can only come through reason.

Yes, I believe we know the Truth long before we can understand Him at all. ;-)

We’re praying for you and yours always dear brother.

6/12/2008 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

Sometimes I wish we had a roadmap to our insides. I can agree that head and heart both have a role to play in helping us walk with the Lord. The only balancing words I might add is that both head and heart should be in subjection to the Lord's spirit within us.

I don't believe there needs to be any battle between head and heart. Of course, the flesh attacks the spirit all the time. But that spirit, man. He never needs to attack the flesh. That Spirit just does what He does... and we try to follow.

6/12/2008 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Wise words Bill. Thanks.

6/13/2008 06:50:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

I've been reflecting on the comments here, and keep seeing, more and more, how self craves to insert itself, and then mess things up. I think part of the problem rests squarely on the human need for accomplishment, and the way we often get the cart before the horse.

Missy's comment stoked my fires a little:

"For example: (hypothetical, of course)

I am convinced that evangelism is something every disciple of Christ should practice in every walk of life. Everytime I get the "call" to do it, I just can't. I get tongue-tied, terror struck, cowardly, whatever.

... One day someone in the crowd stands up and asks me for an example scenario of how I led someone to Christ. Uhhh...."


I've been right there (minus the book tour). I felt like I had to DO something, but later realized that the reason I felt that way was that I needed to prove to myself that I was ok, or to keep up with the other believers in my circle, or whatever. Still, all my reasons came back to ME and my own sense of validation (before others).

It took (is taking) a long time to understand "being" as opposed to "doing." In western culture, you "are" what you "do." But I don't think that's what scripture is really getting at. That sense of "being" is between God and me, whereas the doing invites my ego to flash itself around to everyone else.

I suppose this doesn't make me very evangelical, but I don't feel obligated to "witness" to people. I do my best to be who I am, struggles and all. I acknowledge the hypocrisies that often reveal themselves in my words and actions. I try not to hide behind a facade of righteousness (except at church, of course, where people aren't always as accepting as my unbelieving friends). And I do my best (ok, not always) to be a friend.

I've worked with guys who feel the need to witness to everyone they meet, and the more they can "offend people with the cross," the more righteous they think they are. But when the guy at the paint store found out his wife was thinking of leaving, he trusted me enough to seek my counsel and ask me to pray.

I'm rambling a bit, but the point I'm trying to make is that I think it's better to learn to "be" rather than focus on what next to "do." I don't picture Jesus saying to himself, "Y'know, if I can just muster the faith to heal someone, then I'll KNOW that I'm the Son of God." His good works were the natural outpouring of who He already knew He is.

Speaking about making disciples to a group of pastors, I once heard a pastor say, "If we would just spend a little time helping believers understand who they are, we wouldn't have to spend so much time telling them what to do."

Sorry if I have strayed from the main point. I do that sometimes.

6/13/2008 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger Another Voice said...

Dorsey, I hear you. It's still the difference between walking with the Spirit, yoked together with Christ (being) and walking my own way (doing). It might look the same on the outside, but it ain't.

Psalm 14:12 is sticking in my head right now.

Missy

6/13/2008 03:27:00 PM  
Blogger Another Voice said...

...and sorry about the fire, dude...

6/13/2008 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

It's all good. I lit a really good Dominican with it. ; )

6/13/2008 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger audrey` said...

Happy Father's and Grandfather's Day, KC =)

6/14/2008 03:27:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Thank you so much my dear sweet sister. ;-)

6/14/2008 06:29:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Dorse, your straying is always welcomed and as far as I can remember is always profitable as well. ;-)

As you well know I’m not concerned with how well anyone fits into my perception of the numerous labels we assign to ourselves but I am curious about your perception of Evangelism. What is your take on the Great Commission?

Missy, vs. 12 is a tough one! I can’t read it at all! ;-)

6/15/2008 05:49:00 AM  
Blogger Another Voice said...

:-(

I'm so sorry - I meant PROVERBS 14:12.

Missy

6/15/2008 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Hello KC & all.

"Could it be caused by a passion for our own understanding?"

Could this passion for our own understanding be driven by the temptation to be in control?

Genesis 3:4-6

6/15/2008 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger Another Voice said...

Yes!

6/15/2008 06:23:00 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

"...but I am curious about your perception of Evangelism. What is your take on the Great Commission?"

It's a fair question, and I have to admit that I'm not altogether certain that my position is thought all the way through, but here are some of the considerations that shape my understanding for now.

I find myself wondering if saddling Matthew 28:19 with such a commanding moniker doesn't place on it an emphasis over the other words of Jesus or have an undue impact on the reader's perception of it. I also find it curious that verse 19 is so frequently quoted as a stand-alone thought with no regard to the "therefore" that begins it. The real premise of Christ's statement isn't as much about "go" as it is that "all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me."

I've heard some pretty cogent teaching which suggests, given that the "commission" is predicated upon the statement concerning authority, the emphasis is not so much on "go" as it is "make disciples." In fact, the "go" portion of the sentence could just as easily be interpreted "As you go..."

On its face, my argument sounds a little shaky,but then I take into account the passage in 1 Peter 3, that says, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." It seems to almost say, live a life of hope, and people will be drawn to you. When I consider these things in the context of my experiences, it is easier to see how I arrived here.

Still, I don't discount those very effective people who are clearly gifted evangelists (I don't mean that in the itinerant minister sense, merely every day folks who have a natural ability to speak to people). Clearly, not everyone is cut out for that, nor for my way of doing things. I think you'll agree that sharing the gospel and making disciples are not one-size-fits-all propositions.

Anyway, right or wrong, that's where I am.

6/15/2008 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger Pia said...

papu, happy father's day! God bless! luv ya!

6/16/2008 04:18:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Missy I can’t count the times I’ve seen the same thing happen in the pulpit. I think Jesus gave clarity to that verse when He said, “I am the way”. ;-)

Kris, excellent point and reference. This should also serve as a stern warning against placing a value on anything above the commandments of God. We know that wisdom and knowledge are to be desired but we should never forsake the love for others that God has placed in our heart to pursue it.

Dorse, I really appreciate your thoughts and present position. You’ve inspired my next article among other things. ;-)

Pia thank you so much. I think God used the earthquake to remind us of our love for you. ;-)

6/16/2008 05:09:00 AM  

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