But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ – Philippians 3:7-8

What do you have a passion for? We can use the word passion to describe our feelings for many things – sports teams, foods, a restaurant, or even various social causes. In Scripture, though, I think we see a passion for the gospel that drives the lives of Paul, the Disciples, and the Early Church. The word passion has its root meaning in the Latin word paserr, which means to suffer. So passion can mean whatever a person is willing to suffer for. A desire so strong in your life that not even suffering can keep it away from you. Often the death of Christ is called “The Passion of the Christ,” the suffering of Christ. Christ had a passion that was so strong that death would not stop it. A passion for the lost, for the gospel message that the cross saves those who are lost in their sin.

Paul in the verses above says he counts everything as loss or rubbish in comparison to knowing Christ. Nothing mattered to Paul except knowing Christ and making Him known to others. This was Paul’s passion. It did not matter what the world would throw at Paul – imprisonment, whippings, getting stoned, being mocked. None of those things got in the way of the gospel. In fact, those events would help his cause on many occasions.

Isn’t this the passion we want? A passion that says, “I don’t care what this world throws at me, I just want to know Christ and make Him known!” This requires dying to self and not letting our interest be more important than God’s. This passion cost Paul; if we want it, it’s going to cost us as well. Dying to ourselves brings us into focus for what God wants. We can block out the world around us and then see His desire for spreading the gospel. This requires prayer. I do not think Paul was one to say a 20-minute prayer once a day and think that was enough. I think Paul was constantly in prayer and communication with God. We constantly need to be in communion with God as well. Floyd McClung says, when we find this passion for God, “we become the most dangerous people on the planet. The world no longer rules your heart.” Our passion should be the gospel, living it out and seeing others come to Jesus. A passion so strong that not even suffering can stop it.

City on a Hill

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16

My route to church causes me to drive west on Ebenezer Road and come up from behind the building. If you have ever taken this route you notice our building sitting up high on the hill, similar to a Medieval Castle in a movie. It makes me realize how visible the building is to the neighbors around us. What do they know about Faith Fellowship Church? What do they know about God and His Son Jesus Christ? This past weekend we had our annual Flea Market, which brings many from the neighborhood and surrounding community to our parking lot. Maybe, many of these people had driven by our building on numerous occasions. At the Flea Market, hopefully they had a good interaction with people from Faith. Hopefully they saw the love of Christ shine through all the volunteers.

Jesus in this passage from Matthew uses these same pictures to describe believers. They are to be a city on a hill and a light that shines in the darkness. Why would anyone light a lamp and then cover up the lamp? The lamp is to give its light within the darkness and it make it easier to see. Believers are to be visible in the world around them; they should not be in hiding. My prayer is that the light of Christ shined bright through the Flea Market and that people left with a picture of who God is. I know not everyone is like this but I find myself always aware that I am representing Christ wherever I go. Now that does not mean I always act rightly but I am often able to catch myself quickly when my light is not shining its brightest. I want to be someone whose light shines bright for Christ. Paul instructs the Corinthians to follow his examples as he follows Christ (1 Cor 11:10) and then Peter gives believers the instructions to always be ready to share with someone the hope you have (1 Peter 3:15). When we follow the example of Christ and share our hope, our lights shine bright and we are a city on a hill for all to see. This is what moves people from driving past the building to wondering what is going on inside those walls and how they can find that light. We come to worship within the walls, but we leave to minister outside these walls.