Where Passion Meets God
By Katie Berry
What do you think of when you hear the word passion?
I know personally the first thing I think of is that it’s something you absolutely love. It’s something that you have an intense emotional connection with that usually corresponds to a talent or skill.
Funny enough, as I look up its meaning, the first thing that pops up is the definition linked to the suffering of Christ.
Merriam Webster defines passion first and foremost as, “the sufferings of Christ between the night of the Last Supper and his death.”
Isn’t it interesting how a dictionary would put the suffering of Christ as its first definition rather than what the world normally recognizes as its meaning?
How often do we prioritize our definitions of passion like this?
I will be the first one to tell you that I have not always chosen to prioritize it this way. Even with the season of life I’m currently in, where God is constantly knocking down my walls and molding me into the woman He wants me to be, I still find it incredibly difficult to see it in the right focus some days.
Have you ever been so passionate about something other than God, where it became your number one priority? So passionate about something that it nearly consumed you? Where your motivation for pursuing it wasn’t to glorify God, but to please yourself?
I have, and to be completely vulnerable with you, I still struggle with it to this day.
I love to sing. When I say love, I mean LOVE. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been singing. Some of my favorite memories growing up are singing and dancing around my room for hours and hours and hours, pretending I was performing on a stage for hundreds of people to see.
Singing is one of my greatest passions. It’s not just a thing I love to do; it feels as if it’s a part of me—just like an arm or a leg. When I sing I experience such freedom that it’s, in my opinion, comparable to flying like a bird.
But I recently had to come to the understanding that my passion for singing was not being used in a way to glorify God—I wanted people to hear my voice and give me praise. I believed that this applause I so desperately wanted would make me feel as if I belonged. It wasn’t until recently that God revealed to me how pride was the root of my desire. Through this, He opened my eyes to the truth of the matter—the very freedom I felt when I sang for my own glorification was a hindrance in my life that restricted the overall freedom I could have in Christ.
Passions in themselves are a beautiful thing. God made us each unique and has given us passions, that when used correctly, can glorify His name. However, when they are pursued with the wrong motive—receiving praise for yourself based on your own talents, works, and interests—it becomes an issue of pride. Pride can restrict you from recognizing who you fully are in Christ and keeps God from being able to work in you the way He most desires.
When you hold onto the wrong motive for pursuing your passions, it can cause conflict in your spiritual walk. John 5:44 goes as far to say one’s overall faith is in question if they hold onto pride: “How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?”
This is to say, when we choose to value how others feel about us (including whether we are praised for our own works and talents), we are lacking a complete faith in God. It is not until we surrender all that we are at the cross and become nothing that He can become everything in our lives. Until we let go of ourselves, our passions can lead to sinful pride that will taint our personal relationship with God.
The question that’s left to ask is: If pride is our human nature, what do we need to do to become humble? That is the most important part—we can’t do anything. Once we allow ourselves to become nothing, God will make the heart changes necessary in us when we come to Him in prayer with a repentant and genuine heart. Only then can we begin to experience the freedom we have as servants of Christ.
I know I will never be able to reach the perfect humility Jesus had while he was on earth; but, I pray that God will continue to work in my heart so I can become nothing and He can be everything in my life.
I will always have a passion for singing, but now my motivations are changing. As He continues to adjust my perceptions, my desire is to sing for His glory rather than my own. In each thing I do, I try to remind myself of the true priority and ask myself, “How can I turn this around to glorify Him?”
Through all of this, I hope you are encouraged to passionately pursue your passions for Christ as your top priority. I pray He speaks to you and reveals any aspect of pride that is held within your heart. My hope is that you can experience the full freedom of pursuing whatever you are passionate about with the motivation of keeping the most important definition of passion in the forefront of your mind.
May God bless you beyond your greatest expectations.