It all started on Tuesday with a question during the men’s Bible study: What is “fervor” in Romans 12:11? Actually, it all started last Sunday when I was announcing the men’s Bible study and said, “The topic will be ‘men and spiritual fervor’ – I’m not exactly sure what that means.” Interestingly enough, I discovered that ‘fervor’ comes from a Greek verb (ze’ō) which means “a burning passion”. So, in the context of Romans 12:11, we are commanded to remain aflame by the Spirit as we serve the Lord. We are called to burn with spiritual passion for the cause of Christ.
“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” Romans 12:11
When I think about burning passion, I think of the upcoming Valentine’s Day more than this week’s Sabbath Day. Am I the only one who feels slightly uncomfortable connecting passion and the Lord in any way? Am I the only one who sees passion as emotional, frenetic and earthy and the Lord as cerebral, peaceable and heavenly? For most people, mention of the word passion elicits feelings of romance and mention of the Lord in the same breath seems sacrilegious. As I sat in the Bible study with other men from the church, I sensed trepidation in attempting to reconcile the two disparate terms.
Yet, the truth of Scripture demands that I find some correlation between our fervor and our faith. It has to be something more than a cliché (‘are you on fire for the Lord?’) or a catchphrase (‘faith on fire’). In finding a connection between fervor and faith is perhaps to consider what we do know: there are things in each of our lives – relationships, actions and ideas – that, by their very mention, send our hearts racing. Perhaps the truth derived from Romans 12:11 is that those things can be used by God for God. Every aspect of our personality and personhood has been perfectly fashioned by God, including our passions. If God has given us a particular passion, He also intends for us to express it.
So express it. Perhaps you are passionate about logic and problem-solving; your heart may be set ablaze by deeply exploring the scripture and disclosing the deep truths the Bible contains. Perhaps you are passionate about helping people in need; your heart may be set ablaze by generously expending your time and/or treasure to lift up those who are downtrodden. Perhaps you are passionate about the arts; your heart may be set ablaze in worshipping loudly, dancing meditatively, painting gloriously or writing inspirationally. Perhaps you are passionate about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ; your heart may be set ablaze every time you sit in an airplane seat next to a fellow traveler. Wherever your fervor lies, express it in ways that exalt the Lord.
What are you passionate about? What gets your heart racing? How does God want you to show it and how can the kingdom of God be blessed through it? Perhaps, if we all do that, we can make church the most passionate place on earth!