Run!: The Passion of Elijah
Each of us is passionate about something. Whether it's biking or golf, music or gardening, hunting or travel, photography or our grandchildren, we strive to devote as much time and energy to what fires up our passion as is appropriate ... and sometimes more than is appropriate. When we speak of the things we're passionate about, excitement dances across our faces and echoes in our voices.
But how many of us are truly passionate about our walk with Jesus? Although we may devote considerable time to worship, Bible study, prayer, and similar activities, is our daily walk with Jesus-how we live out our faith through personal discipleship-our deepest passion? Do we devote our best effort to our walk with Jesus? Does our relationship with him animate our conversations and energize our steps? Do other people notice our devotion, and does how we walk with Jesus inspire them to do the same?
For most of us, it's all too easy to have plenty of passion for some things but little zeal for our walk with Jesus. Our less-than-zealous obedience to God and his Word communicates that our spiritual walk is not something that excites us, and that influences how we live out our faith. We become complacent and apathetic about our relationship with God.
Yet God desires that his people live for him with passion. The religious Jews of Jesus' day understood intense devotion and zeal for God. They honored the passion and zeal of the ancient heroes of the faith-Moses, Phinehas, Hezekiah, Elijah, and so many more. They sought to emulate the fire these heroes showed in their walk with God, their devotion to Scripture, and their commitment to obedience. And they readily recognized those among them who lived with a passionate zeal for God.
Jesus the Messiah was not a laid-back, unemotional, matter-of-fact teacher. He lived with an intensity for God that few have ever known. He clearly fulfilled the ancient prophecy: "zeal for your house consumes me" (Psalm 69:9). In fact, he displayed such great zeal for God that he was even mistaken for Elijah-the zealous Old Testament prophet who gave God everything he had. Jesus too gave everything, even his very life, in obedience to God.
Jesus challenges those who believe in him to become his disciples-his talmidim-to follow in his steps and become like him. So to be a disciple of Jesus is to walk zealously with God and make disciples as he did. The Jewish disciples of Jesus-including Peter, John, and Paul-understood this call for passionate discipleship. And they lived it. But Jesus sent his disciples out of the Jewish world and into a Hellenistic world that did not know Jesus and that had never heard of the passion of Elijah. It was a world not unlike the world into which he sends us today.
So in this session, amidst the spectacular ruins of the Roman city, Aphrodisias, we'll see how the disciples translated Jesus' call to passionate discipleship into the language and images the Roman culture already understood. We'll see how they used the people's knowledge of sports and the arena games to communicate the total dedication and intense passion needed to "run" the spiritual race in order to win. To give everything you have, your whole self, in order to win the prize is an image the Greek and Roman world understood. It is one our culture understands as well.
Opening Thoughts (4 minutes)
The Very Words of God
I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. 1 Kings 19:14
Think About It
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine that you could see Jesus as he walked and taught in the villages of Galilee. How would you describe his appearance and demeanor-the way he sounded as he spoke, the look in his eyes, the way he moved as he walked? What do you think you would notice about him? Which heroes of the Bible, or our own time and culture, do you imagine as portraying some of the characteristics or qualities of Jesus?
DVD Notes (22 minutes)
The passion of Elijah
The passion of the Olympic games
Competing to honor the king
Surrounded by witnesses
Excerpted from Walk as Jesus Walked Small Group Edition Discovery Guideby Ray Vander Laan Copyright © 2006 by Ray Vander Laan . Excerpted by permission.
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