I remember my first college physics class where I learned the difference between speed and velocity. Speed measures how fast an object moves over a period of time. Velocity measures the direction and progress of the object. The difference between speed and velocity is significant. Think about a car that is stuck in the mud. The wheels keep spinning at a high rate of speed but have no velocity; the car never moves. You can press the accelerator until you run out of gas but if the car is stuck, you’ll never reach your destination.
Passion, like speed, measures the emotional energy we put out. Passion is a good thing. God made you and me to live with passion. But, just like the car stuck in the mud, passion without a purpose won’t get you anywhere. You can invest all your passion (energy) into your education, but without a degree plan you'll never reach your destination (graduation). You can put all your passion into doing good works but without a clear purpose you will not achieve long-term change.
So just as speed needs velocity, our passion needs direction. The good news is this: God created us with passion and the Bible shows us exactly how to direct that passion to achieve great things.
Let Kindness Guide Your Passion to Your Full Potential
The world is full of angry people. Social media and the news constantly fill our minds with things designed to make us angry with messages like, “Be angry at politician X,” or “Be angry at the corrupt system that keeps you down.” Why do influencers want us angry all the time? Titus 3:1–4 tells us that anger keeps us “enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.” And the sad truth is that people in power thrive when we—the masses—are driven by anger. But you can avoid this trap. When faced with corrupt leaders or broken systems, you can let kindness drive your passions. When you choose kindness as your guide, your passions will result in good deeds that overcome evil and bring glory to God.
Let the Gospel Guide Your Passion
We live in a cancel culture that silences any passion that doesn’t conform to the political or ideological power structures. But living in a cancel culture is nothing new. In the book of Acts chapter 5:27–31, we read how the religious leaders with all the power tried to stop the early Christians from spreading the news about Jesus. Under the threat of imprisonment, or worse, the Apostle Peter boldly proclaimed,
We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.
Peter, and the other Christians did not give in to fear because they know the stakes were high. Now, just like it was back then, the world needs a savior and, no matter the consequences, we must be faithful witnesses to the salvation of Jesus Christ. When people try to silence you, let obedience to the gospel drive your passion.
Let Mercy Guide Your Passion When Out of Your Comfort Zone
It’s easy to get caught up in heated debates that lead us to broken relationships. Sadly, most of the things that cause us to treat others poorly really don’t matter, at least not in the long run. Titus 3:5–11 reminds us to “avoid foolish controversies” because these kinds of conflicts are “unprofitable and worthless.” But sometimes in our passion to serve God means we are forced to push back against the consensus of our friends or family. Yet, even when our love for God leads us into a conflict with the people we love, we should follow the example of Jesus and let his mercy guide our passions.
Let the Spirit of God Guide Your Battles
Every day it seems like the culture wars draw up new battle lines. The only way to survive the culture war (we are told) is pick a side, put on the armor of political alliances, and pick up the weapon of social media to advance the cause. It's way too easy to get discouraged by these battles because the line between right and wrong keeps shifting and our alliances keep changing. But, for the Christian, the battle lines are clear and our alliance is unbreakable. In Ephesians 6:10–13 we are encouraged with these words,
Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
In a constitutional republic like the United States, we are blessed with the right to vote our conscience. It’s good to participate in the system. But we should never forget that the battle is not against our neighbors, our families or our friends. Our enemy is not the Democrats or the Republicans. For the Christian, our battle is against the spiritual forces that keep us from serving God. Our enemy is the spiritual powers that seek to divide us and keep us from sharing the love of Jesus Christ. There is no need to make enemies of the people who have different political or religious views — that is not our battle. Don’t let the world direct your passion to fight. Stay passionate for justice but let the Spirit of God choose your battles.
Live your passion with a purpose.
Approved by the Assistant Professor of Christian Worldview for the College of Theology on Nov. 2, 2022.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.