We are all zealots. We are passionate for the things/people/causes we love and passionate against those we hate.
And that’s good news, because God is zealous to rule a zealous people:
And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. 15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
We are zealous about our families, our careers, our future in this life. We are zealous for all kinds of things, but when we come to God something shifts and we find our hearts filled with apathy.
We tell ourselves: ‘oh, I’m just not a passionate or emotional person – that’s why my heart isn’t moved in worship.’
Our hearts are always moved when we truly worship.
The problem with our generation is not a lack of zeal, it’s a lack of Godly zeal. It’s a lack of “earnest desire and concern for all things pertaining to the glory of God and kingdom of the Lord Jesus among men”. (the quotes, btw, are from my puritan theology book).
“Are we willing to yield to all the lukewarmness and degeneracy that has overspread us? [Even] the truly pious are dull and heavy in their religion, [and] march on wearily in their appointed race as if either their Lord had lost His glory or His promise to them…
Are you as zealous about God’s glory as you are about your reputation? Are you as zealous about communing with the Holy Trinity as you are about talking to your friends? Are you as zealous about spiritual fitness as you are about physical fitness.”
Charge one: be zealous for God.
Charge two: make sure that your zeal for God is authentic and real and not counterfeit.
Just like with cash – counterfeits are hard to identify because they are so similar to the real deal. You and I have to become experts and train so we can identify false zeal.
The two forms I see most often in myself are:
(1) Zeal that looks to be pursuing God’s glory while it is really pursuing a selfish end.
I get this. Seeking God’s glory is a dangerous business. Every time I beg God to show up when I teach, every time I plead with Him to make my ministry succeed – I constantly have to tear my heart apart and see what darkness is in me.
Do I want to teach well so that God gets glory? Or do I want God to show up so that I can teach well? Have I learned that if God gets glory for Himself through me, then I get glory too?
(2) Zeal that looks to honor God without truly knowing Him.
The Jews were passionate about God, they had a zeal for Him – but not according to the truth of who He is.
They’re not alone. America is filled with people who have created a god in their own image and slapped a ‘Hi, my name is Jesus’ sticker on Him. They define Him based on their preferences, their politics, their perspective.
And me too. I skip the parts of Scripture that push on my insecurities. I explain them away. If I find something I don’t like, I am tempted to just turn the pages of the Bible until I find a verse that sounds a little bit more like the kind of God I want to be passionate about.
Here’s the deal: God will not be censored. He will not be molded in our image.
And doesn’t that stir your heart for Him? Doesn’t that fuel your zeal?