Passion That Consumes

Charles C. Pugh III
June 9, 2013

The apostle Paul had a passion that consumed him. Passion is ardent devotion, intense drive, deep affection and desire for something or someone. Great sacrifice is often the result of great passion. What motivates people to make tremendous sacrifices in academics, business, sports, human relationships, etc. is more often than not related to the passion held for that for which they sacrifice. Don Nierling held the record for the most marathons completed in a calendar year. During a 47 week period in 1982-83 he ran 57 marathons. He said, “There have been any number of races where I could barely walk the next day" Why? Why would someone put himself through such pain and agony over and over again? The answer is passion. He said the marathon was his avocation, vocation, religion, mistress, and life. He even changed his last name to “Marathon” (Kroll).

For Paul, it was his passion for Christ that consumed him, and it resulted in the sacrificial life that Paul lived for Christ. Jackson explained, ‘‘Christ is the beginning and end of life for Paul. This is the passionate view of Christianity which, unfortunately, so many members of the church have never fathomed. Being a Christian is not a part-time hobby; it is a consuming career” (55).Paul identifies his passion when he writes, “[T]hat Imay know Him . . .” (v. 10). To gain this knowledge of Jesus is why Paul says he made the sacrifices he made—“. . . for the excellence ofthe knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord . . .” (v. 8). This passion to know Jesus involves a

personal knowledge and “often implies a personal relation between the knower and known, involving the influence of the object of knowledge upon the knower” (Rogers 455). Barclay says it is not only intellectual knowledge (78). Obviously it involves the intellect and embracing through logic and reason the truth (reality) of certain propositions (cf. Acts 26:24-25). However, it is more than this, “it is the personal experience of another person . . . the closest and the most intimate and the most personal knowledge of another person . . . [I]t is knowledge of a person” (79). Chambers wrote,“The root of faith is the knowledge of a Person” (56). Peter described the depth of the passion of the Christian when he wrote, “[W]hom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). Thus, as Lenski affirmed, this passion of Paul to know Jesus was “not the mere relation of the object to the subject as in intellectual knowing, but of the subject to the blessed object as in heart knowledge” (837). Paul’s whole life from his conversion to Christ was “a constant ‘passionate longing after Christ’” (Martin 151). Because of this passion, Paul sacrificed all things that he might gain Christ. Do we?