It was one year after I graduated from high school that I experienced an infusion of passion for Jesus Christ. He took me from nominal (lukewarm) Christianity to a fiery, passionate faith that I could not keep to myself. I was consumed with zeal for Christ and His interests and my life would never be the same. I enrolled in Bible college so I could know His word. I evangelized almost everywhere I went. Even my “art” became my primary means of engaging in “at-home” missions. Hip hop provided a perfect opportunity to “spread everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him” (2 Cor. 2:14). Like Paul, truly to live was Christ and to die was gain (Phil. 1:21), and I knew that all of me was set apart for Him. Admittedly I could be a little “over-the-top” at times but it was clear—I was on fire for Jesus!
Perhaps you remember our Lord Jesus saying that it was “zeal for the Father’s house” which consumed Him. Zeal is a fiery passion and “consume” is what it does—compelling you to act on behalf of something or someone. It is a burning passion, which always leads to decisive action. This, in fact, is what caused Jesus to first get offended by injustice and consequently to flip the tables and whip people to drive them out of the temple (John 2:13-17). It was zeal for God’s glory and His people that stirred up a young David who was just delivering lunch to his brothers when he became aware of Goliath’s disrespectful threats. This “shepherd” who was simply out “running errands” as an obedient son, suddenly found himself pulled into a fight with the disrespectful giant (1Sam. 17). Furthermore, zeal for God’s cause set ablaze the by-standing Paul as he “observed a city full of idols.” This caused his spirit to “be provoked,’” and prompted him to begin preaching all over the place—“in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be ther” (Acts 17). Generic “zeal” fires you up; “godly zeal” fires you up on behalf of Jesus Christ. Those who have Christ’s interest in mind above all else can attest to this. Concerning this truth, John Newton says it best,
“they are no longer their own, they would not be their own; it is their desire, their joy, their glory, to live to Him who died for them. He has won their hearts by His love… The glory of His name, the success of His cause, the prosperity of His people, the accomplishment of His will, these are the great and leading objects which are engraven upon their hearts, into which all their prayers, desires, and endeavors, are directed.”
“The glory of his name,” “the success of His cause,” “the prosperity of His people”… these are our compelling concerns. They are so weighty! Not “our name” but “His name.” Not “our cause” but “His cause.” Not just “ourselves” but “His people” are the matters for which we will preach, create, suffer, lose, labor, and strive. Indifference is not an option and silence is too difficult. Like Jeremiah the prophet, “If I say, ‘I will not mention Him, or speak any more in His name,’ there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot” (Jer. 20:9). Zeal pulls otherwise easy-going people into the battle and this is why believers were given the Holy Spirit. The boldness needed to respond zealously as a sheep among wolves takes power from on high. In Christ we have that Spirit, and in Him we have that example. Let us fan into flame the gifts given by the Spirit (2 Tim. 1:6).
I can honestly say that lately these things have been consuming me in a renewed way. Even my own sin and my own worldliness bothers me because they impede my ability to be singularly devoted to these passions. Grace is amazing and the Spirit is with us. I know I’m not alone. That’s why I’m re-engaging in a two-sided ministry of the gospel. I plan to proclaim Christ to the culture, while loving and laboring with my family in Christ in full view of the on-looking culture. Through music, preaching and teaching, writing, and prayer, I hope to be the ambassador that God has called me to be. As His ambassadors, let’s standup and represent! Keep your brother in prayer. Grace and peace.