RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Occasionally someone has asked me, “What is the passion of your life?” I could readily articulate my sense of purpose or what I perceived to be God’s will for my life. I could talk about my personal desires, dreams and visions, but this question gave me pause.
I am passionate about my family. Occasionally I have been quite passionate in rooting for a favorite team at a sporting event. I have been known to express passion for our missions task, but does this represent the passion of my life?
Is there a compelling force, filled with emotion, driving my decisions, focusing my attention, energizing my actions, motivating my behavior toward a desired accomplishment? Or do I just live life as it comes, accepting whatever may result?
God’s passion is that all the peoples of the earth would know him and praise him. It is expressed in the Book of Revelation when those without number from every tribe, people, tongue and nation would worship him, for he alone is worthy of all praise and worship and honor and glory.
The Psalmist captured this passion when God said in Psalm 46:10b, NASB, “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” It was reflected in his plea in Isaiah 45:22, NASB, “Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other.”
And is not that the reason God blesses us as his people? Israel expressed it in Psalm 67:1-2, NASB, “God be gracious to us and bless us, And cause His face to shine upon us — that Thy way may be known on the earth, Thy salvation among all nations.”
Should not God’s passion be ours as well? Is anything other than God’s glory among the nations not self-centered, self-serving and unworthy of our life’s devotion? His passion for the nations led him to leave the glories of heaven in order to provide redemption for a lost world. He called Israel to tell of his glory among the nations and has commissioned us to extend the Kingdom of God by making disciples of all peoples.
Missions is not driven simply by a burden for a lost world. We will not go to the ends of the earth out of a sense of guilt or obligation because we were commanded to do so. We will be motivated to obedience only when we come into such a relationship with God that we know his heart and share his passion.
The only motivation that will take us on that short-term volunteer trip, will lead us to become a prayer intercessor for the nations, will empty our purses and pocketbooks in giving generously and will cause us to consider giving our lives in missionary service is a passion for God and his passion for the nations.
Can you not sense God’s grief in being deprived of the worship he is due and longs for across the Muslim world? Does he not have a passion for the multitudes of Buddhists striving for their eternal destiny through their own good works, knowing nothing of his provision of redemptive grace?
His passion to reach the Karakalpak in Central Asia, the Tuareg in West Africa and the Yi people of China is what nailed Jesus to the cross and raised him from the grave. Will we share that passion?
As we anticipate Christmas and celebrate the birth of our Savior, let us seek God’s passion that all peoples may know Him. May we follow in the sacrificial devotion of pioneer missionary Lottie Moon and respond to her appeal to give out of the passion that someday soon God will be exalted among all nations.
Rankin is president of the International Mission Board.