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.