On Sunday afternoon I was in the garden with Marley, our dog, and as usual he was wanting me to throw a ball for him (the above picture is not from yesterday but is him saying “please throw a ball”). From time to time I would simply hold on to the ball in order to see what he would do – and his eyes would never leave it, no matter which way I moved it. He has a similar habit when he sees that we have food. Occasionally his enthusiasm would get the better of him and he would make a lunge for the ball before I had thrown it – but when I did throw it he was off after it like a furry rocket, definitely on a mission of the utmost importance, ie catching it and bringing it back to me to throw again. And again. And again etc etc…
Chasing the ball is Marley’s passion. If you come to our house he will get a ball and expect you to throw it for him. If we go for a walk he will be literally straining at the leash to get to any area of green where he immediately sits down and looks at me expectantly. If we go on a walk without a ball he keeps coming back to make sure I really haven’t got it. Anytime we go into the garden, you guessed it, he expects to play with the ball. It’s his passion. It’s his focus. and everyone who meets him knows it.
Marley is a great evangelist for the ball. And as I watched him my mind turned to matters of faith, God’s passion for us and our passion for Him. Wiser people than me have called the Bible “God’s love letter to us” – He is passionate about us, and totally focussed on us to the extent that He sent Jesus to declare His love in the most powerful way possible (John 3v16 anyone?) – as I said on Sunday morning in church, He is the Father waiting, and hoping, and longing for the wayward Prodigal Son (you and me) to come home to Him. When people see us, who call ourselves Christian believers, do they see a passion for Jesus? Do they see Him in the way we live, the things we do and say? Is it clear from our calendars and schedules that Jesus is the most important part of our lives? In 1 John 4 we read that “We love because he first loved us.” In other words once we realise how passionate God is for us, our lives are filled with passion for Jesus – at least that’s the theory – and it will show. Just as Marley fixes all his attention and energy on the ball, our response to God’s love is to fix all our attention and energy on living for Him. That’s how people will know that God is worth following.
So this week, using the words of Hebrews 12, let’s commit to “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Learn from Him. Watch what He does. Do the same. Show what is most important at a time when all the things people put their trust in are falling apart. “Stir it up in our hearts, Lord, stir it up in hearts, a passion for Your Name.”