Holy Week Devotion

3 Ways to Live with Passion

                We in the church call this week Holy Week, but through most of Christian tradition, the days and events leading up to Jesus’s death were called the passion. It begins with his entry into Jerusalem on a donkey and ends with him on the cross. Jesus’ passion was on full display as he turned over the tables in the Temple, sparred with religious leaders, stooped to wash his disciples’ feet and ultimately voluntarily gave up His life. He did this out of a great love for God and for those who needed to be restored in relationship to God. 

                He wasn’t wishy-washy and didn’t dither when it came to what He came to accomplish. He was passionate.  

                1 John 3:16 says, “This is how we know what love is. Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 

                So we can look at Jesus’ life and word and we can say, “This is love.” That’s what passionate, whole-hearted love looks like. 

                The passion of Jesus is a mirror for your life.  

                How much are you living with passion for what you believe and what you know God wants to accomplish in your life? 

                It’s OK to admit that your heart has grown cold. It’s OK to say that you’re struggling with doubts, or that you haven’t been living whole-heartedly. The grind of life can feel overwhelming, and disappointments almost always surprise us. It’s OK to say that you struggle to pray. 

                Jesus meets us where we are. That’s the message of the passion week. He passionately pursued us, determined to give everything so that His love would be expressed and that people would be reconciled to their Heavenly Father.  

                If you can admit you haven’t been living with passion — the way that you were created to be — then that can be the first step toward finding your way back to God. 

                From there, here are three ways to live with passion. 

                First, be vulnerable. Vulnerability is essential to whole-hearted living. Those who aren’t vulnerable may not experience huge losses (they don’t take risks to open themselves up to failure), but they also won’t experience the great joy of having connected deeply or succeeded in some great endeavor. Love can’t flourish in a heart that isn’t vulnerable. 

                So say what you need to say. Make the call. Have courage to speak the truth. Share something nobody knows. 

                Second, be sacrificial. To save your life you have to lose it. If you lose it, you’ll find it. Let yourself come to the place where you’re like a seed planted in the ground, seemingly inconsequential and dead, but ready to spring to life.  

                Give something away. Open your home. Call someone who is lonely or hurting and set up a time to get together. Or maybe let yourself be taken away by some huge sacrifice — something like picking up yourself or your family to move to fulfill a mission, or accepting the call to go to seminary, or changing your dead-end career for something that makes an impact for others. 

                Third, be grateful. Christ was always giving thanks, even on the night before He was killed. Be grateful for what you have. It may not be all that you want, but it’s more than you deserve.  

                Give thanks for the cross. Give thanks for the empty tomb. Give thanks for the love so big that the grave couldn’t hold it. 

                Here are a few guided practices to help you live whole-heartedly: 

                1. Spend 15 minutes mediating on the cross. Maybe pull up a picture of Jesus on the cross and think on what’s happening, how He felt, how He suffered. Imagine what He went through. Prayerfully ask God for new insights on Christ’s passion. 

                2. Read through John 20 and reflect on the resurrection. What do you see? What are the emotions and actions? What puzzles you? How do you imagine that first morning? 

                3. Get up early enough on Easter morning for prayer before you go to worship. Let the presence of Christ fill you and prepare you.