Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Where Has the Passion Gone?


The dictionary defines “passion” as a powerful or compelling emotion. We’ve seen such passion evinced frequently in recent days.

Throughout arenas, restaurants, bars and homes, the past few weekends have been replete with the passion of folks rooting on their favorite basketball teams. They wear their favorite colors. They yell with joy or shed tears of grief. For every winner, there is a loser. But there’s plenty of passion to go around.

In our nation’s capital, people are shouting and waving signs. Not in support of a basketball team, but in reaction to legislation that will have profound effects upon our nation’s healthcare system. Some support the legislation and others oppose it. At the end of the day, only one side went home happy. But both sides show tremendous passion for their cause.

If you read the blogs, Facebook, My Space or Twitter, you’ll find plenty of people expressing their passion. Passion for their teams (or against someone else’s). Passion for or against the healthcare reform bill. People who are otherwise pretty silent in these forums jump into such debates with, well, passion.

And then there’s the Passion. It’s capitalized because it has to do with the Savior, the Lord of lords and the King of kings. It is a term applied to the sufferings of Christ on the cross.

If anything should evoke passion among Christians, it is this time of year. Jesus lived a perfect life and gave Himself for sinners who don’t deserve such grace and mercy. He died to do for us what we can not do for ourselves. He rose again to bring hope to the hopeless.

But where are the cheers? Where are the expressions of emotion?

While the social networks are filled with words of passion about basketball and politics, there is little passion expressed about Christ. In fact, a recent survey revealed that only about 31% of active church-goers have definite plans to invite someone to church on Easter Sunday. Of course, that same survey indicated that only 42% of Americans specifically identify Easter with the resurrection of Christ, so we shouldn’t be surprised that there’s little connection between attending a worship service and Easter.

What was perhaps even more disconcerting was that “…those who articulate a resurrection-related concept of Easter are no more likely than other religiously oriented Americans to indicate that they will invite friends to worship with them on Easter.”

In other words, whether you believe that Easter is associated with the resurrection of Christ or not does not affect the likelihood that you’ll invite someone to church on Easter. Seems to me that Christians lack a bit of…passion.

Oh well, at least we’ll still have basketball and politics.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

First Love

There are not a lot of things that I remember about March 4, 1989.

I do remember that it was cold, and they were predicting a snow storm. I remember thinking how time seemed to drag, as we waited for the 7:00 ceremony to begin. I remember being grateful for a couple of good friends who had agreed to stand with me that day, both of whom had already been through their own wedding days.

I remember after the ceremony, taking pictures in the church auditorium as the congregation sat and observed. This is traditional in Oklahoma, where Kim is from, but in Kansas City we’re accustomed to dismissing the congregation so they don’t have to endure the picture taking. Evidently in Oklahoma, they like to make their guests suffer, too. Misery loves company.

I remember seeing people that I hadn’t seen in several years—people with whom I had gone to church my whole life until I graduated from college. I was surprised—pleased, but surprised—that some of them came.

I remember the wedding cake, made by my mom—her one and only effort at such a massive undertaking. The worry nearly killed her (or maybe it was the thought of her little boy getting married—we’ll never know).

But mostly, I remember her. Kimberly Beth Gammill. Tall and slender, she was always beautiful. But on that day, when I saw the church doors open and she began her walk down the aisle, I thought I’d never seen anyone with such a glow about them (it may have been from the tanning she’d done in preparation for our honeymoon to the Bahamas, but I think not).

Since that day, Kim & I have developed a rich, meaningful and intimate love for one another. She is my best friend. She is my confidante. She is my rock. I love and appreciate her more each day.

Yet it is on this day of our anniversary, as I think back to our courtship and early marriage, that a special sense of love is rekindled. It’s known as “first love”—the type that characterizes young lovers. It reminds me of how I felt 21 years ago. Before surgeries and relocations. Before job and career changes. Before a teenager and a dachshund puppy.

The love we share today is real and deep. But especially on our anniversary, I look back to a time and a feeling that was new and fresh. And it’s good to be reminded what that feels like.

Jesus tells the church at Ephesus to return to her first love. Or perhaps, to return to the type of love she had for Jesus at first. Specifically, Jesus says, “Repent and do the things you did at first.”

Just as I sometimes need to take Kim flowers, open the car door and let her pick the movie (just like 21 years ago), as a Christian I need to be reminded of what it was like when I first met Jesus. When the love was new and fresh. When I basked in Him and His glory just because it was Him.

I’m so glad to have some memories of what it was like when Kim & I first met, and dated, and married. I return to those roots periodically—not as often as I should, but every now and then.

And so I need to rekindle the flame with my Lord and Savior. To be reminded of love that is new and fresh every morning.