In case you missed it, be sure to catch Deborah Gyapong’s excellent, hard-hitting post over at The Master’s Artist on the supposed Christian wisdom of following your passion. Sorry if it spoils things for you. Blame Deborah this time.
Unless your passion is for loving God and others, you’re outside God’s will. Follow me on this. The passion for writing comes and goes. Some days you might feel writing is the very source of life, and others you can’t imagine why you ever wanted to pick up a pen.
Yes. Passions change. Desires change because we’re not in control of what we want and need. We can’t define ourselves by what we’re passionate about any more than we can by our clothes, ringtones, or iPod skins. If we “follow our passion” we miss the point, the passion God’s hoping to reveal.
I was given an article recently by a friend. It appeared in Harper’s—that paragon of liberal-think. The author says that American Christians (i.e. Americans) have supplanted the greatest commandments with opportunistic, selfish desire. No argument there. I loved the bald conviction in this paragraph:
“Love your neighbor as yourself … The last shall be made first; turn the other cheek; a rich person aiming for heaven is like a camel trying to walk through the eye of a needle. On and on and on–a call for nothing less than a radical, voluntary, and effective reordering of power relationships, based on the principle of love. …[Yet] at the moment, the idea of Jesus has been hijacked by people with a series of causes that do not reflect his teachings.”
What does it say about me if this is not my passion? Who among us is going to say, “Yep. I’m doing what Jesus commanded, every day, all the time.” If you read my last post about a “contribution of words” to the victims of Katrina, doesn’t it still raise at least the passing thought that as worthy as a word offering might be, I’m not loving my neighbor as much as I could? Is there really no difference between physically acting on Jesus’s command, and sending money, prayers, and words?
Because here’s our dilemma, writers. How much is enough? And do we believe “God helps those who help themselves”? Or do we believe that “the whole law is summed up in the single command to love our neighbor as ourselves”? It’s good to believe the first one too, because it’s a truthful principle, but it’s not what Jesus commanded. God desires obedience over sacrifice. This isn’t an idea we can just ignore and move on from. We have to love fully.
Love is a choice, it’s been said. And like Deborah pointed out in her post, serving others is probably the only way to be clearly in God’s will. How do I do what needs to be done both physically and mentally, locally and globally, emotionally, politically, temporally, relationally, vocationally, and integrate all of that into my everyday life as a husband, dad, and friend seeking sustenance in this capitalist (e.g. wealthy) system? Maybe the next question is, can I exist as a writer in this capitalist system and still fulfill the greatest commandments? Or does the vocation of writing require me to sacrifice too many of the other expressions of love?
THIS is why I was made: to love God and my neighbor. THIS is how I find my purpose. THIS is my best life now. THIS is the path to spiritual enlightenment, to self-actualization, to rending myself from the decaying matter of this crumbling terrestrial holding pen. NOW is the time to seize our desire for companionship and love, and BE the passion we seek.