Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Being Passionate

I was listening to the radio a couple of months ago and they were interviewing some people who had just been to some kind of event that Mitt Romney spoke at. A couple of the people said that they didn't think Mitt Romney was angry enough. I can think of lots of reasons not to vote for Mitt Romney but not being angry enough isn't one of them. Many of these people would have been happy if Mitt Romney had come out yelling, screaming, and throwing chairs even if the content of what he said was the same. They are angry with the political machinery and aren't as concerned with actually fixing problems as they are having someone to express their outrage in a public way. After a political debate content usually takes a back seat to how "presidential" a person acted or how passionate they were.

Unfortunately our expectation of passion for the sake of passion is not limited to our expectations of government leaders. Pastors are praised for "being passionate" or dynamic. I've found websites that say you should leave a church if it does not have a passion for the lost. I recently read an interview with a local worship leader who talked about how important it is to show that you are passionate so that you can create the right worship experience and everyone else will get passionate with you.

If you are critical of what these passionate pastors teach or of how they teach, people will sometimes say, "I don't agree with everything he says but he has such a passion for the lost." But that's not the point. The Bible doesn't call anyone to be passionate. Being passionate is not where the Bible directs us for assurance or one of the qualifications for being a pastor. Pastors are called to be self-controlled, not quarellsome, disciplined, not violent, not quick-tempered, sober-minded, able to teach, and gentle. These Scriptural qualifications mean that if somebody is completely driven by passion they should not be serving as a pastor. A person who is consumed with passion is being driven by his own emotions.

That doesn't mean that pastors are not to have any emotion but their emotions should not be driving them. Jesus did not go around trying to scare people into heaven through elaborate emotional appeals about the terrors of hell. He said what hell was and left it at that. Jesus did respond in anger to the money changers in the temple but that was for theological reasons. The money changers made it seem that you could buy your way into heaven. There are good Scriptural reasons for getting angry with passionate people who preach themselves and use all kinds of gimmicks instead of preaching Christ-crucified and delivering the forgiveness of sins in Word and Sacrament. There are Scriptural reasons for getting angry at those who tell us that what we believe really isn't as important as how we live. There are Scriptural reasons for getting angry with anyone who does not preach the real Jesus crucified for sinners regardless of how passionate they may be for the lost.

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