I was born with a passion chip. Some part of my genetic code gets riled up under certain circumstances.
I relate to Peter when the guards came to take away Jesus. Peter’s passion DNA started firing on all cylinders: “Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave.” John 18:10 NLT
It’s safe to say passion overrode his system and he acted in anger, maybe even sin. A verse later, Jesus rebukes Peter, tells him to put his sword away, and heals the man’s ear.
Even though this feels like a righteous passion, a holy discontent, his response was still corrected by Jesus. His passion became unhinged.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been Peter in this situation.
Sports: I plowed a few catchers in baseball, got in more than my share of scuffles in sports, punched a wall when I was 15 during a basketball game, and threw my helmet more times than I can remember. The passion was there because I wanted to win. Still righteous, but unhinged.
Family: As a husband and parent, I’ve reacted in anger more than a few times. Passionately wanting the best for my marriage and my kids, but this passion can come unhinged and I may slice off a few ears in the process.
Ministry: Now my calling is ministry, to reach people for Christ, and to build the local church. My heart beats passionately, and like Peter, this passion can become unhinged.
When it does, I try to remind myself of two things:
1. God created the heavens and the earth and spoke the world into motion. He chooses me – humanity – to carry out his mission on earth, but he doesn’t need me any more than he needs himself.
Reminding myself that God is God causes me to breathe and reflect. Before slicing off an ear, I need to remind myself that God is still working. I may not understand or like it, but that does not necessarily mean it’s not what God wants to happen.
2. Do not sin in anger or passion. Passion is not a sin. Even an angry passion is not a sin in and of itself. However, our response is key. What we do with that passion. How we respond. Where we place it.
When the passion does overload and becomes unhinged, be quick to apologize. To others. To yourself. To God.
Is there a time to potentially slice off an ear (figuratively speaking, of course)? I think there is. Defending the widow, the orphan, the outcast, the helpless, and defenseless. Carrying out the greatest commandment: To love God and love others. When the mission goes haywire. Sure, there are times when passion needs to boil to the point of becoming unhinged. But only to the point.
Today, I’m reminded that God is in control, that he breathes and the world moves, and to not sin when the passion boils. But I’m also reminded, like Peter, Jesus is looking for those who are willing to fight for what’s true, good, and right, even if we want to occasionally slice off an ear.