So, in my last post, I was exploring some of the challenges I have faced when helping people to understand the importance of “Spirituality” in their everyday walk with God (and, on occasion, in my job title!). However, over the last few months, I have also discovered that the word “passionate” can also present some issues for a few people.
“Isn’t it all a bit exuberant and demonstrative if one is described as passionate? We don’t do that – we’re British!”
“can’t it actually mean that you’re a bit excessive or radical? Will it not potentially put people off?”
(This is a conversation I have had numerous times, so I paraphrase multiple people, rather than quoting individuals!)
“Passion” doesn’t mean that you have to be a raving fanatic, an overly-expressive bouncy person who waves their arms and spontaneously worships in the street or that you have to be all mushy and sentimental about God like you’re writing him a Valentine’s card (in fact, don’t get me started on that last point…!). It doesn’t even mean that you always have to be happy – frustration, doubt and sorrow can all have a place in our walk of faith (just read the Psalms!).
What it does mean though, is that there is a deep-seated sense of identity and conviction in your relationship with Jesus.
Passion means you’re authentic and real and that something holds a deeply-rooted significance to you. It means that you’ve found something that’s really worth your time and energy. It means someone or something has become a defining part of your identity and will shape your decisions and lifestyle. That’s how we need to approach our faith. As disciples of Jesus, we need to be real, to be seeking to become more like him and allowing his teachings and the knowledge of his sacrificial love to define our identity as a child of God. How we do that can vary greatly: from denomination to denomination; from generation to generation and – in my experience as an individual – from day to day!
Passionate Spirituality isn’t about what you do, or where you do it. It’s about the why. It flows out of a heart that recognises the importance of having God at the centre of all you do and all you are. Why do we worship? Why do we pray? Why do we read the Bible? The answer to all of these questions should start with a desire to draw closer into God’s presence and establish his rule in our life. What we do will be a more personal reflection of what helps us to fulfil this purpose.
If spending time practising the ancient disciplines of the saints of history is a way you can still yourself and feel close to God, then that’s wonderful. Contemplative traditions are rich and beautiful and if this is something you have never explored, then I encourage you to have a taster.
If sitting with a coffee, a note pad and your Bible for a good long session of exploring God’s word is something that makes you tick, then make sure you do that regularly – and if it’s not something you do, have a go! The Word of God is an incredible gift and gives us a clear glimpse into his design for humanity, his saving grace through Jesus and the revelation of what true discipleship is about.
However, if cranking up the worship music in the car and belting your heart out is your “soul time”, or popping on boots and a waterproof and stomping around God’s beautiful creation gets your heart beating faster (not just because of the exercise), or if going out into the town or city where you live and ministering to those who need to experience some love and compassion in their lives makes you feel like you’re in God’s presence then, oh please, yes!, go and do it!
Live enthusiastically, love deeply, serve faithfully and be a whole-hearted, whole-of-life disciple…
Or have passionate spirituality…
Or refer to it as “soul-growing”…
God really won’t mind what you call it, as long as you’re finding your way to do it. He just wants you to come to him.
If this idea of discipleship and spirituality is something you feel you would like to explore further, then I would be delighted to meet and have a chat – please do get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org