Zachary Elliott, Special to Valley News
Passions and emotions are high around the country, and verbal slander runs rampant in the streets. People are eager to voice their passion, even Christians, but often for the wrong reasons.
Take, for instance, the true story of a local church pastor in Montana. When he decided to move his services online instead of in-person for a season, he received nasty messages from some of his own congregation.
They called him a coward and told him that he wasn’t fit to pastor a church. Really?
According to 1 Timothy 5:17, “The elders (pastors) who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.”
They should not be slandered or pitted against each other.
Sadly, I believe there has been a shift in our focus and our hearts. Think about it in your own life for a second. Over the past five months, during all this mayhem, what has often been the focus of your thoughts and conversations?
My guess is that the current pandemic and social issues we are facing have dominated them. They have been my focus, too.
I know the current cultural situation is a big issue. It’s affecting all of our lives, and the issues need to be taken seriously.
But let me ask you. Is that really where God wants our passion? So much so that we belittle, berate and shame others?
I think not. Our passion supposed to be in Jesus and the building of his kingdom?
Jesus faced this same issue with the leaders of his day. They were so focused on keeping the rules that they forgot the real heart of the matter.
In Matthew 23:23, we see Jesus facing off with the religious leaders of his day who were missing passion in some key areas.
Jesus responded to them by saying “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”
Their problem was the same problem we’re having. They were so focused on the rules they forgot justice, mercy and faithfulness.
In short, he’s saying, don’t mask the passion.
Here are three areas you should really be passionate about.
Be faithful to pursue the kingdom and righteousness of God.
Jesus said, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well,” in Matthew 6:33.
It wasn’t the second, third or 23rd thing to seek. It’s first.
He said what you seek, you will find. Be faithful to seek him.
Show the mercy of God to sinners.
In Matthew 9:13, Jesus said, “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Jesus came to make sinners righteous, which means he came to make them right in God’s sight.
In fact, that’s the mission Jesus sent his disciples on when he said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age,” in Matthew 28:18-19.
This mission is where our focus should be. God shines his mercy through us to a world that so desperately needs it.
Live in obedience to God’s moral standard.
Micah 6:8 said, God “has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
According to God’s just standard, we are to live in obedience to his word, which is our authority.
I believe I can speak for every pastor when I say, it would be better that people were as passionate about these areas as they are about their mask and social distancing. It would change the world.
Zachary Elliott is the lead pastor of Fusion Christian Church in Temecula. For more information, visit https://www.fusionchristianchurch.com, https://fourminutefaithbuilder.com or find them on Instagram.