What is Apostolic Passion?
The term "passion" is used to describe everything from romance to
hunger pangs. I don't know what it means to you, but for me passion
means whatever a person is willing to suffer for. In fact, that's the
root meaning of the word. It comes from the Latin paserre, to suffer.
It is what you hunger for so intensely that you will sacrifice
anything to have it.
The word "apostle" means a sent one, a messenger. To be “apostolic” means we are sent people. The apostolic calling of the church includes forging new ways for how we do church and pioneering new places where we do church. To be apostolic is to be radical, to be adventurous, to think strategically and to listen prophetically.
"Apostolic Passion," therefore, is a deliberate, intentional choice to live for the worship of Jesus in the nations. It has to do with being committed to the point of death to spreading His glory. It's the quality of those who are on fire for Jesus, who dream of the whole earth being covered with the Glory of the Lord.
I know when apostolic passion has died in my heart. It happens when I
don't spend my quiet time dreaming of the time when Jesus will be
worshipped in languages that aren't yet heard in heaven. I know it's
missing from my life when I sing about heaven, but live as if earth is
my home. Apostolic passion is dead in my heart when I dream more about
sports, toys, places to go and people to see, than I do about the
nations worshipping Jesus.
I have lost it, too, when I make decisions based on the danger
involved, not the glory God will get. Those who have apostolic passion
are planning to go, but willing to stay. You know you have it when you
are deeply disappointed that God has not called you to leave your home
and get out among those who have never heard His name. If you will not
suffer and sacrifice for something, you are not passionate about it.
If you say you will do anything for Jesus, but you don't suffer for
Him then you aren't really passionate about Him and His purposes on
If you don't have it, how do you go about getting this thing called
apostolic passion? Is it like ordering pizza at the door in 30 minutes
or less, guaranteed? Is there an 800 number to call? Or better yet,
just send us your special gift of $15 or more, and we'll rush you some
passion, express delivery, overnight mail. If you're like me, you need
help figuring out how to grow this thing called passion. I am
motivated by reading how the apostle Paul got it. He chose it. And one he received it, he nurtured and kept it alive.
Paul says in Romans 15 that it is his ambition, his passion, if you
will to make Christ known. It began for him with a revelation of Jesus
that he nurtured all his adult life. Paul not only encountered Christ
on the road to Damascus, he kept on meeting Jesus every day. This
revelation of Jesus, and his study of God's purposes, gave birth to
Paul's apostolic passion. Knowing Jesus and making Him known consumed
the rest of Paul's life. He "gloried in Christ Jesus in his service to
God" (Rom 15:17). By comparison, everything else was dung, garbage,
stinking refuse. Paul's ambition was born from his understanding that
God longed for His Son to be glorified in the nations. Paul did not waste his passion, but focused it on spreading the glory of God to the Gentiles, that they "…might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit" (Rom 15:16).
Human enthusiasm cannot sustain apostolic passion. When God invests
His own passion in you, you must build and develop what God has given you. Four things will help make that happen:
1. Apostolic Abandonment
Too many people want the fruit of Paul's ministry without paying the
price that Paul paid. He died. He died to everything. He died daily.
He was crucified with Christ. This strong-willed, opinionated man knew
that he must die to self. He knew that in his flesh, he couldn't
generate the revelation of Jesus; he couldn't sustain the heart of
Christ. So he died. He abandoned his life. He abandoned himself.
We live in a world of competing passions. If we do not die to self and
fill our lives with the consuming passion of the worship of God in the
nations, we will end up with other passions. It's possible to deceive
ourselves into thinking we have Biblical passions when, in reality,
all we have done is to baptize the values of our culture and give them
Christian names. We will have chosen apostolic passion only when our
hearts are filled with God's desire for His Son to be worshipped in the
May I encourage you, dear friend, to give up your life? I challenge
you to pray this prayer: "Lord, be ruthless with me in revealing my
selfish ambition and my lack of willingness to die to myself." I
guarantee that He will answer your prayer and quickly.
2. Apostolic Focus
The greatest enemy of the ambition to see Jesus worshiped in the
nations is lack of focus. You can run around expending energy on all
sorts of good ministries, and not get one step closer to the nations.
I don't have anything against all the projects and ministries out
there done in God’s name. God's people do them, and I don't question their obedience to God. But the Church has an apostolic calling, an apostolic mission. God has called us to the nations. We must focus, or we won't obey.
Focus on what? I believe God wants a people for Himself. Activity for God
without a sharing God’s passion to have a people for Himself is good
activity, but it’s not the mission of God. You can have evangelism without fulfilling God’s mission. You can care for the poor without connecting with God’s mission. You can do short-term outreach without obeying God’s mission.
Everything we do must lead to making, gathering, teaching and baptizing disciples for Jesus. Some people are under the illusion they need a special calling to save souls, to disciple them, and to get them together in communities of faith that are committed to loving and obeying Jesus.
Whatever you do for Jesus, if we are to obey the great commission it must lead to this one thing: that Jesus has more worshippers who know, love and obey him. Call that what you will. I call it church planting. If that term does not appeal to you, choose another. But make sure that above all things you do what he commanded us to do: go, teach, baptize and make disciples.
That is apostolic focus.
3. Apostolic Praying
A young man in Bible school offered to help David Wilkerson years ago
when he was ministering on the streets of New York City. Wilkerson
asked him how much time he spent in prayer. The young student
estimated about 20 minutes a day. Wilkerson told him, "Go back, young
man. Go back for a month and pray two hours a day, every day for 30
days. When you've done that, come back. Come back, and I might
consider turning you loose on the streets where there is murder, rape,
violence and danger. If I sent you out now on 20 minutes a day, I'd be
sending a soldier into battle without any weapons, and you would get
You can get into heaven, my friend, without a lot of prayer. You can
have a one-minute quiet time every day and God will still love you.
But you won't hear a "well done, good and faithful servant" on
one-minute conversations with God. And you certainly can't make it on
that kind of prayer life in the hard places where Jesus is not known
or worshipped. Here's a challenge for you: Read everything Paul says
about prayer, then ask yourself, "Am I willing to pray like that?"
Paul said that he prayed "night and day with tears without ceasing
with thankfulness in the Spirit constantly boldly for godly sorrow
against the evil one."
4. Apostolic Decision-Making
If you live without a vision of the glory of God filling the whole
earth, you are in danger of serving your own dreams of greatness, as
you wait to do "the next thing" God tells you. There are too many
over-fed, under-motivated Christians hiding behind the excuse that God
has not spoken to them. They are waiting to hear voices or see
dreams all the while living to make money, to provide for their future,
to dress well and have fun.
The Apostle Paul was guided by his passions. Acts 20 and 21 tell of
his determination to go to Jerusalem despite his own personal
anticipation of suffering, the warnings of true prophets, and the
intense disapproval of his friends. Why would Paul go against his own
intuition let alone the urgings of prophets and weeping entreaties of
close friends? He had a revelation of greater priority, of greater
motivation: the glory of God.
Apostolic decision-making starts with a passion for God's glory in the
nations, then asks: "Where shall I serve you?" Most people do the
opposite. They ask the where-and-when questions without a revelation
of His glory in the nations. Is it any wonder they never hear God say
"go!" They have not cultivated a passion for the passions of God. Lesser desires are holding them captive.
Present your gifts, vocations and talents to the Lord. Press into God.
Stay there until you long to go out in His name. Remain there and
nurture the longing to see the earth bathed with His praise. Only then
will you be able to trust your heart if you hear God say, "stay." Only
those who long to broadcast His glory to the nations have the right to
stay in this nation.
If you have apostolic passion, you are one of the most dangerous
people on the planet. The world no longer rules your heart. You are no
longer seduced by getting and gaining but devoted to spreading and
proclaiming the glory of God in the nations. You live as a pilgrim,
unattached to the cares of this world. You are not afraid of loss. You
even dare to believe you may be given the privilege of dying to spread
His fame on the earth. The Father's passions have become your
passions. You find your satisfaction and significance in Him. You
believe He is with you always, to the end of life itself. You are sold
out to God, and you live for the Lamb. Satan fears you, and the angels
Your greatest dream is that His name will be praised in languages
never before heard in heaven. Your reward is the look of pure delight
you anticipate seeing in His eyes when you lay at His feet and the
just reward of His suffering: the worship of the redeemed.
You have apostolic passion!