Updated: Jan 17
When you see or hear the word passion what comes to mind?
I'm guessing that for most people, including most Christians, God doesn't even make the list. This is a real shame.
I first came across Chesterton's quote perhaps a decade or so ago. I've been thinking about it ever since.
Chesterton wasn't the only one trying to remind us of something that we tend to forget.
David was one of those who was truly passionate about God. We see this time and time again in the Psalms. The opening verses of Psalm 63 are a great example:
O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my body longs for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
I have seen You in the sanctuary and beheld Your power and Your glory.
Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.
I will praise You as long as I live...
We see David's passionate love for God on display in 2 Samuel, chapter 6:
As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal, daughter of Saul, watched from a window.
When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.
They brought the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord. After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty. Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes.
When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”
David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”
David wasn't the only one to display a passionate love for God. We encounter two women in the New Testament who do the same.
When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.
He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.
“Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.
All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
The British poet and preacher John Donne is another one who shows us what a passionate love affair with the Lord looks like.
Note well the astonishing plea that he prays at the end of this poem:
Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
I will let Dorothy Day have the last word.