Archive for July 20th, 2016

Maybe you have heard that exhortation to “follow your passion”.   I just heard it this morning as positive in hospice.  We have seen in terror and horror many people following their passion: The assassins who killed five police officers in Dallas and another one who killed three policemen in Baton Rouge, certainly followed their passion, as has every ISIS/Islamic terrorist suicide bomber followed their passion.  This alone should make suspect the now run of the mill encouragement to “follow your passion”.  I will look at why it is not good to “follow your passion”.

1.  We are all natural born sinners (Psalm 51:5), yes we are even natural born killers (cf. St.Matthew 5:  21-23).  Original sin is not a popular doctrine, but it is true.  If we follow our sinful passions, which they are without faith, then we are following our own sickness as goodness.  Why are movies that show a satisfying death of an evil man so satisfying?  Because I too have the bent inclination to so destroy and enjoy it.  This lust is also in matters of the breakaway from marriage:  we follow our passion on porn sites, adultery, the soft porn of man a TV show etc. etc.  Following that aspect of our ‘passion’ only leads finally to STDs, the break up of marriages and spiritual and physical death.  Follow your passion?  No.

2.  The objects of our passion are not all good, e.g. lust for someone or the lust to destroy someone.  And even if the object is good, the tendency is, for instance, “I will do anything to help someone”.   The problem is the use of “anything” which leaves the door open to even sinful actions to accomplish the goal under the deceit of “helping someone”.  Some people think the acquisition of political power is a good passion in order “to make a difference”;  or making millions of dollars to be secure.  But as the Lord said our treasure will be where our heart is and the sinful hearts is never satisfied with the power and money we have.  The mere passionate pursuit overwhelms the soul.  How do we know if an object of our pursuits is good to begin with?  Answer:  is it in accord with the 10 commandments?  How do we know if our “passion” is good?  Answer:  is it in accord with the 10 commandments?  This is the third use of the Law.

This morning’s discussion about passion was in the context of a presentation on “professionalism”.  Following  your passion should not be the means or goal for professionalism but the actual objects and aims of the organization is the goal.  I think the implied encouragement is, “You have to be passionate, a lot of the time, in your role”is a problem because none of us can do that except with daily pep rallies.  I have seen such as a high school student when I worked at a Tupperware Warehouse when the dealers literally had such a rally every Monday morning in order to get all excited to sell more plastic containers.  We can not be excited all the time.  A professional does what he has to do most of the time out of the sheer sense of duty to get the job done.  Yes, sometimes the vocation’s personal fulfillment will be great, but laying on a worker the exhortation, “follow your passions” is putting on an unnecessary burden which is the product of a narcissistic/ subjectivist culture.  It used to be, for instance, “duty, honor, country”, never “duty, honor, passion, country”.  

And looking around I think we have far  too many passions and a soundbite world feeds this ravenous beast which is never satisfied.  Singing the sturdy Lutheran hymns of old, many times we sing about “mortifying all passions”.  And the word origin of “passion” is literally “to suffer”, not mere emotional highs.  It is to suffer with and for someone, as Christ did in His passion. There is passion which is lust and emotional excitations.  There is the true passion, suffering with and for, perfectly by Jesus Christ.  His is our only passion.

Let us also die with Jesus.
His death from the second death,
From our soul’s destruction, frees us,
Quickens us with life’s glad breath.
Let us mortify, while living,
Flesh and blood and die to sin;
And the grave that shuts us in
Shall but prove the gate to heaven.
Jesus, here I die to Thee
There to live eternally.

“Let us Ever Walk with Jesus” (The Lutheran Hymnal)




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