Consumed With Christ: Is That Normal? Really?
The Pursuit of Passion Series: Reflection 2
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of reflections from David Bryant exploring the most exciting dimension of Christian discipleship: what David defines as “fervency for Christ’s supremacy.” He concludes this reflection by offering seven simple words that not only sum up the totality of life in Christ but also provide you with seven simple steps to ignite your passion for God’s Son.
On this side of eternity, can our—should our—fervency for Christ become an “all or nothing” proposition? Should everyday followers of Jesus expect their relationship with him to eventually become all-consuming? In this life?
Realistically, is a full-on vision of his glorious greatness capable of compelling Christians today to enter into an all-out devotion to him equal in some measure to how we’ll love him at the end?
To ask it another way: Is it reasonable to pursue an undiluted passion for God’s Son now that is in any sense comparable to what we’re sure to experience when we stand before him face-to-face?
I’ll never forget the historic gathering of nearly three million teenagers one autumn morning when they answered with a resounding “Yes!”
See You at the Pole!
With groups forming on thousands of high school campuses at their public flagpoles to pray, the annual See You at the Pole (SYATP) initiative celebrated its 15th-anniversary event that year with a theme comprised of a single word:
Sponsored by a national network of hundreds of youth ministries, SYATP asked the young people in its promotional literature:
Do you want the fire of God to fall on your campus and in your community? Do you really? You must realize that when fire falls, it consumes everything that is unholy and ungodly. The fire of Christ purifies lives, melts hearts and devours sin. How desperately do you want Jesus to become for you the fire of God?
By the millions, students and others rallied to their Savior that September day. They asked him to be the fire in their lives, to impassion their outreach to the world. Many continued asking for this in organized daily prayer meetings the rest of the year.
Consumed! That’s what many became that year in their walk with Jesus.
That extraordinary event was followed four months later with more calls for fervor for the Savior by a national convocation of nearly 20,000 university students that formed what one delegate called “the world’s largest Christian missions academy.”
News stories proclaimed “a new generation of college students is making plans to transfer its passion for Jesus Christ from the campus to the mission field.” At the close of their time together nearly 10,000 committed in writing to short- and long-term mission assignments.
Surveying their zeal, the director of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s URBANA Conference that year stated unequivocally: “Students in the 21st century will be the greatest missionary force the world has ever seen.”
Fervency: Life as Jesus Meant It to Be
None of this should catch us by surprise. From the beginning our Father created all of us, young and old alike—in body, soul, spirit, will, intellect, and emotions—to be passionate for his Son.
We must never be afraid to give ourselves to him with unqualified abandon. Nothing about the Christian life should ever be dubbed as dull while following the Master who marched out of a graveyard to ascend to the throne of the universe!
Listen to how Jesus invites us into fervency for his supremacy (from the NIV, emphases added):
Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever . . . loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it [consuming passion!] (Mark 8).
If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters — yes, even their own life — such a person cannot be my disciple . . . those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples [consuming passion!] (Luke 14).
Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son nor daughter more than me is not worthy of me . . . whoever loses their life for my sake [consuming passion!] will find it (Matthew 10).
The Desire of All Nations: Come!
The lofty language of the classic King James Version remains unparalleled in literature.
Take, for example, its rendering of that wonderful verse in Haggai 2:7 (sung regularly in Handel’s Messiah): “The Desire of all nations will come”—implying that Christ’s second coming will satisfy all the aspirations of human hearts. I like that.
However, as modern versions like the New International Version suggest, the better translation of the Hebrew should actually say “the desired” of all nations will come, meaning the “treasures” of earth’s peoples will be offered up when multitudes worship God in the Consummation. They will honor the reign of his Son by laying their wealth at Jesus’ feet (Rev. 21 expands on the same vision).
And yet, to be quite honest, the King James Bible was not far off by translating the Hebrew as “the Desire of all nations,” because on that great day, all peoples will have to acknowledge that every spiritual thirst we sought to satisfy with earthly refreshment was quenchable only by his glorious presence.
From the beginning all soul desires of all people have been for him, whether they understood this or not. Augustine speaks for all of us:
My heart is restless until it rests in Thee!
That’s why our Lord Jesus is the “desire” of all nations!
Getting More Consumed With Jesus
What about you? Do you know that fervency for Christ’s supremacy is your destiny as well?
That being so, how might a believer express more meaningfully his or her daily desire for him, and for much more of him now?
Seven words set the pace for all of us:
1) SEE him more for all he is, as you study about him in God’s Word
2) SEEK him more for all he is, as you ask for more of him in prayer
3) SAVOR him more for all he is, as you sing praises of him and to him
4) SPEAK of him more for all he is, as you teach fellow believers about him
5) SHOW him more for all he is, as you imitate him in word and deed
6) SERVE him more for all he is, as you minister to others in his name
7) SHARE him more for all he is, as you lead others to him as our Redeemer and Lord
Can you think of any good reason to hold back on all-out passion for him any longer?
About the Author
Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ-proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI) and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and to Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely-read book at www.ChristIsAllBook.com.Tags: ChristNow ChristNow blog consumed with Christ David Bryant