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Get Passionate

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Get Passionate!

2Corinthians 6:3-13     November 16, 2003


Scripture Reading:

John 21:15-22 about Jesus’ question and command to Peter about passion.

“Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will."” (Matthew 26:33 NIVUS)


Video Segment: “Get Passionate!” Worship

If we believe, as Paul preaches in 2Cor. 5:1-10, that we live now in light of heaven’s glory, having the hope of an indestructible body, an incorruptible body, reaching the goal of our created existence in close communion with Christ in final justice, then the stage is set for proper motivation in ministry.

And if we believe, as Paul preaches in 2Cor. 5:11-6:2, that those proper motivations are fear, pride, love, heaven, godliness, friendship, and grace, applied judicially, appropriately, compellingly, comparatively, creatively, sacrificially, and urgently, then we are taken to the next level of discipleship.

That is what this message is all about. It is about the fruit of hope; the payout of proper motivation. It is about passion.

A life without passion is a pretty sorry existence. That is why Jesus said ---

“14 ¶ "To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15  I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16  So, because you are lukewarm— neither hot nor cold— I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:14-16 NIVUS)

So, like the interviews we just saw, what trips your trigger? What do you get passionate about? What is your passion in life? What would Paul say about it?

Let’s take a look at our text this morning in 2Cor. 6:3-13 to see what evidence Paul gives us about his passion as we consider our own.

READ 2Cor. 6:3-13 passionately!

Now I want you to know that Paul’s plea for passion has caught on at various times and places in the world. Even if it is not yet so in your own heart, the possibility is distinct that you can catch on holy fire.

“"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14 NIVUS)

And what happens when you do? You make Christ known. Your passion for him becomes contagious. He is your spiritual fuel. His heat is white hot like the sun. He himself is your light.

Your lament of lukewarm is lost in the light of his love for you that ignites the twin peaks of your passion for him; your passion for serving him.

How many of you went to the circus this last Thursday night?

Was passion permissible? Was passion acceptable? Was passion expected?

What about the Cubs, the Bears, the Bulls, the Wolves. Passion is part and parcel of the play.

Those are all games of the season. What about the game of all seasons? What about the game of all eternity? The stakes are high. When the final score is on the board there won’t be any replay.

Christ wants to see some passion out there. Now, he doesn’t want you jumping out of your seat to beat up the umpire. But he does want us to cheer him on, to cheer his servants on, to cheer ourselves on, and even to boo the opposition from time to time. We win. We can get passionate now!

Both last Sunday and this Sunday have been set aside as International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.

As I spoke earlier, there have been various times and places in the world where an overwhelming passion for Christ has caught on. But we see mostly that passion catches on because it has been called on through persecution.

These are times and areas in the world where the play has gotten rough and the score has gotten uncomfortably close. Main players get injured, the coach gets tough, and passion matters.

Religion Today Feature Story - a close-up look at the people, issues and events making news.

Pray for the Persecuted Church Nov. 9 through 16


More than three years ago, a Nepali man with a heart to reach his country for Christ was arrested on false murder charges and thrown into jail, leaving his wife and two children alone. Before his imprisonment, Manja Tamang – a native missionary with Gospel for Asia – courageously brought the Gospel to unreached villages in the rugged mountains of Nepal and led a congregation of 25 new believers. Even in his desolate prison cell, Manja remains steadfast in his passion to shine the light of Christ. Several prisoners have received the Lord through his witness.


Christians sharing their faith in Nepal live in constant peril due to the threat of Maoist terrorists and anti-Christian extremist groups. Each day, Gospel for Asia’s 305 Nepali missionaries wake up knowing they could face imprisonment—or even death—for spreading the Gospel. Yet, like Manja, they boldly choose to trek narrow mountain paths to reach villages with the Good News of Christ.


From Nepal to North Korea, from Sudan to China, countless followers of Christ daily face beatings, discrimination, jail and death. Because persecution is a global problem, it is only fitting that Christians around the world pray for their suffering brethren on the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.


Global Overview


According to IDOP’s Elizabeth Kendal, 70 percent of the Church is now found in the non-Western world in nations with very poor human rights records. A large proportion of Christians now live in crippling poverty, amid war, under Communist dictatorships, Islamic oppression and domination, or in nations that are embracing nationalism as they seek to shake off their colonial past. One characteristic of this post-Colonial nationalism is that the majority religion, be that Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism, becomes linked to national identity.


Misconceptions about Christianity create a climate in which persecution can take place. One commonly perceived threat is that Christian Church growth will threaten the integrity and growth prospects of the non-Christian majority religion. Another is that Christians will establish links to the Church worldwide, which some totalitarian dictatorships allege is a “threat to national security.”


Some 200 million Christians today are living with serious persecution (threat of prison, vigilante or state violence, etc.) because of their faith. A further 400 million Christians live with non-trivial restrictions on their freedom and the loss of many basic human rights, simply because they choose to love and follow Jesus Christ.


“Persecution of the Church is a huge problem,” notes Kendal. “We are all brothers and sisters, so what sort of family will we be - one that cares or one that neglects? Persecuted Christians are in a spiritual battle, often fighting for their lives and sometimes struggling in their faith. We can join them in this spiritual battle, fighting on their behalf, by praying for them and supporting them.”


Global Trends


Kendal reports that Islam has, to varying degrees at various times, persecuted Christians for over 1400 years. Christians living under Islamic domination generally suffer crippling discrimination and severe persecution for their allegiance to Christ. Apostates (those who choose to leave Islam) often pay with their liberty or their life. However, as Islamic fervor has increased over the past decade, both persecution of Christians and jihad (Islamic holy war) activity have increased.


In Hindu and Buddhist nations, as well as some totalitarian, dictatorial or simply politically troubled states, religious nationalism is so popular that it has become a political tool that is used for political gain. The majority religion (be that Hindu, Buddhist, or Russian Orthodox) is propped up and advanced in exchange for political support. This is happening in many nations where majority religions have great influence and the state is keen to use it. The majority religion then has leverage to enlist State power to close down and persecute 'competitors' (evangelical churches). This symbiotic relationship between the state and leaders of the majority religion has been going on since the days of the first Christians.


In Communist East Asia and other totalitarian states, Christians are persecuted and imprisoned for giving allegiance to Christ ahead of the government. Christians have faced this since early church days.


In the West, once known as Christendom, society has its roots in the Judeo-Christian ethic, yet the church in the West is also asked to choose between the 'praise from men' found by yielding to worldly standards and to secular, rationalistic, naturalistic humanism, and 'praise from God' which comes from honouring Christ and his Holy Spirit-inspired word (John 12:43).


“Jesus, who desires that we - the Church - be one (John 17:21), has called us to take up our cross and follow him through rejection, death and onto glorification,” Kendal writes. “We will do it best if we do it together.”

BreakPoint cultural commentary with Prison Fellowship's Chuck Colson.

November 7, 2003


Women and Children First - Defining the Face of Persecution


What image comes to mind when I say "the face of persecution" or "the face of martyrdom"? A robust man, standing resolute and Luther-like, saying "Here I stand," while a firing squad takes aim?


Let me put the face of persecution into better focus as we prepare for this Sunday, the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Who are the more than 200 million being persecuted as Christians?


The face of suffering is a child's face. Last month, in Buddhist Burma, militia and insurgents destroyed a Christian hospital and orphanage, using rocket-propelled grenades. In North Korea, great grandchildren are punished for a great grandparent's "crime" of following Christ. International Christian Concern reports, "if there is even a hint of the possibility of Christianity, the person and their entire family to the fourth generation are killed outright or sent to a prison camp to be [starved and killed]."


Several Muslim countries have intensified persecution since September 11, mistakenly equating Christianity with the United States. Attackers beat, burned, and sexually abused a nine-year-old Pakistani girl-saying it was "revenge for the American bombing of Iraqi children . . . because you are an infidel and Christian."


"The face of suffering is a female face," observes Marli Spieker, founder of Trans World Radio's "Women of Hope" broadcast. In Indonesia she met a young woman who had refused to deny Christ. So a jihad member put a gun into her mouth and said "Let's see your God help you now." Then he pulled the trigger. Miraculously, she survived, but she was horribly disfigured.


It's the face of Soon Ok Lee, a Christian and former prisoner in a North Korean concentration camp. She testified before the Senate that Christians are assigned to the cast iron factory, the most dangerous place in the gulag. She saw a group of elderly Christians killed, one-by-one, doused with molten iron because they would not deny Christ.


The suffering faces are from every race. Many leaders of China's unregistered church have been arrested, beaten, and tortured. In Vietnam, Christians are denied jobs, promotion, and medical benefits-even water from the community well. When a Vietnamese pastor was beaten to death, authorities pressured his brother to sign a confession that he had done it.


News dispatches from around the world read as follows: "Mexico: Armed Assailants Kill Evangelical Pastor;" "Israel: Bible Shop Trashed . . . ;" "Nigeria: Two Catholic Priests Assassinated."


But other faces involved are yours and mine. In the body of Christ, after all, when one suffers, we all suffer. And therefore, we feel it when our brothers are being persecuted.


Irina Ratushinskaya, my friend, the Russian dissident and gifted poet, was in prison for seven years because of her Christian faith. She told me that every day in that cold, dank gulag she felt the prayers of believers offered for her around the world. Let the believers around the world feel our prayers.

Big Question:

In what ways might we know whether a servant of Christ is serious about serving?

A serious servant of Christ does not discredit the gospel message by a passionless presentation.

A serious servant of Christ charts a path to God by passionately going the distance - no matter what.

A serious servant of Christ speaks of his passion by his life.

A serious servant of Christ calls for passion in the life of others.

I.       Cycle One

          A.      Narrative (v. 3)

          B.      Implication


A serious servant of Christ does not discredit the gospel message by a passionless presentation.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

II.      Cycle Two

          A.      Narrative (vv. 4-10)

          B.      Implication

A serious servant of Christ charts a path to God by passionately going the distance - no matter what.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application


III.    Cycle Three

          A.      Narrative (v. 11)

          B.      Implication

A serious servant of Christ speaks of his passion by his life.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

IV.    Cycle Four


          A.      Narrative (vv. 12-13)

          B.      Implication

A serious servant of Christ calls for passion in the life of others.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application


How is God calling you to live out passion for Christ?

Is it like Judge Roy Moore in Alabama? (Chgo. Trib. 11/14/03)

Is it like Rev. Marshall Hatch of New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church in West Garfield Park? (Chgo. Trib. 11/13 & 11/14/03)

Is it like Chris and Kathy Gouzoules in Mexico?

Is it like yourself who could well make the argument that your spiritual gifts would be better suited to a ministry of greater glitz?

Or have your been called to the greater glory of trench warfare?

Indeed, our passion for Christ must follow the passion of Christ.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2 NIVUS)

Big Answer:

In what ways might we know whether a servant of Christ is serious about serving?

A serious servant of Christ does not discredit the gospel message by a passionless presentation.

A serious servant of Christ charts a path to God by passionately going the distance - no matter what.

A serious servant of Christ speaks of his passion by his life.

A serious servant of Christ calls for passion in the life of others.

Timeless Truth:

Life without passion for Christ is the pits. But life with a passion for Christ has the intense blessing of divine purpose and power. Are you empowered by passion?

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