I love being around new believers! There is something about their passion that is contagious. Just like camping, however, the fire will go out if there is an absence of fuel and/or oxygen. It is sad when followers of Jesus Christ lose their passion for Jesus. So I ask you, “What happened to your fire for Jesus?”
I have looked at my story of coming to Jesus from both the positive and negative perspectives. The negative for me would be coming to Christ from a cultural Christian family and at a later age (well 19 years old). I could become jealous of those that have a Christian pedigree. I am speaking of those that were raised in the faith from birth. There are also those whose parents were in ministry and maybe even their grandparents. I remember becoming aware of my knowledge deficit after starting seminary following obtaining my Engineering Degree from a secular school. Now, I was not a slacker academically but this Bible stuff kicked the stuffing out of me. I was ignorant to the nuances of theology and clueless when it came to studying the original languages. It was obvious that many of my classmates had a head start because of their upbringing and undergraduate studies in a Christian college.
Now I did have a couple things going for me like a lot of room for growth. Yes, I have made tons of mistakes along the way. I also had a passion for Jesus and to see others come to know Christ. I wanted (and still do) others to find what I have found. I survived those years and am better for it (Thanks to the wonderful staff at Northwest Baptist Seminary). But I have noticed as the years pass that it is easy to lose our passion for Jesus. I have come to consider it as one of the greatest challenges for maturing followers of Jesus. It becomes easier to take our faith for granted. We can become indifferent to the wonders of God’s grace and His working in our lives. The challenges of following can leave us stained with bitterness from those difficult stretches. And yes, I have wrestled with these just like you do.
The key for me has been to remember where I have come from and what Jesus’ work in my life has allowed me to do and why I am here. I am thankful that the Lord has never given up on me. So how do you keep your fire for Jesus? We could talk about the disciplines of the faith like reading your Bible, making the sacrifice to pray, sharing the message with others and the importance of getting involved in ministry. Yet, I am reminded from the Apostle Paul’s words that the key is trusting Jesus by pressing on and not giving up until we cross the finish line. I adopted these three verses as my life verses. “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12–14)
These verses remind me to leave behind the stuff that does not matter and focus on crossing the finish line for Jesus. I am the one responsible for keeping the fire going and so are you. I hope one day to hear the words of my Savior, “Well done good and faithful servant.” How about you? Then let’s get busy!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson