Passion and persistence play a huge part in the Christian life, or at least they should do!
One of the great problems of the western mind is the desire to create one nice tidy package of what we believe, and so make a system which becomes the framework for everything – all nice and neat and tidy. The problem is it doesn’t work like that. The Bible is not like that. There are questions and tensions in the stories that are not easily resolved however hard we try! They don’t always fit our tight systematic boxes. And because life isn’t like that it doesn’t help us either.
Reading 2 Kings 13 recently reminded me of those challenges, and challenged me and my thought processes and actions.
In the story the King of Israel came to the dying Elisha weighed down by the constant threat of the Syrians/Arameans. Elisha tells him to take up the bow put an arrow in it and shoot it through the window – and Elisha assists him. He shoots the arrow and Elisha says God will give him victory over the Syrians/Arameans. Then, then he tells him to take the other arrows and strike the ground with them. The king does so three times. Elisha is angry and says that because he only did it three times the victory would not be as great and that he should have done it 6 or 7 times then it would have been complete!
Our minds go, what’s going on here? No ground rules were laid out, and now the victory that Elisha said God would give is going to be somewhat limited because of the kings actions, or lack of them.
It would seem that God was testing the kings passion and persistence – was his heart really in this?
It would seem like that in many areas of the Christian life, we have God’s promises or God speaks a prophetic word, and we think that’s it, that’s all that’s required, and we passively accept it and wait, and then nothing happens, or less than we expected, when in actual fact God is watching and waiting for us, looking to see whether we really mean it, looking to see how much passion and persistence we have.
Regarding the gifts of the Spirit, Scripture says, it’s God who gives the gifts of the Spirit to us, “distributing to each one individually as He wills” (1 Cor. 12:11) – in other words a sovereign action.
But Scripture also says, that we should “earnestly desire” them (1 Cor 14:1), the original Greek carries the idea of being eager, zealous, ambitious, one version translates it, “strive”! In other words the sense is to go after them zealously!!
There’s no place for passivity, and definitely not indifference. We are called to act. God wants our passion and persistence.