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The Source of Zeal

Posted by jbharp on July 30, 2007

For the Christian, it is a good thing to have zeal for the Lord. Contrary to this blog title, I am not going to offer any definitive answer of where zeal originates (I just thought it was a cool sounding title). Rather, I’ve been thinking about one source for zeal which seems to be given credit far more than any other: persecution.

It seems that many Xians travel the world and witness professing Xians living in other cultures (as well as many who stay behind but hear the stories of these individuals). These Xian’s lives are truly threatened and in harms way on a daily case. Anyone can easily see the passion and fervor that these people posses under harsh circumstances. Now when the American Xian sees this they impulsively react, understandably, with admiration of the zeal in these people. What follows is a healthy analytical question – “Where does this zeal come from?” The non-analytical process demanded of the answer is what I think is unhealthy. And that answer is: persecution.

These familiar observations lead to nothing more than admiration for our brothers and sisters who are in fact being persecuted. This is nothing wrong of itself. But, what then are we to take away from it for our own growth? Unfortunately, I think many presume that it would do the American Church some good to undergo persecution. Now I cannot say for sure whether all who speak of the zeal in people of persecuted areas are advocating for the American Church to undergo persecution. But the fact of the matter is this; anyone seeking to be zealous for God, should not seek persecution.

There are several ways to have passion, fervor, and zeal for God. But persecution should not be a method crafted to obtain these traits. Persecution undoubtedly can lead to zealots, but zealots do not necessarily come from being persecuted.

A Xian is certain to face persecution at some point in their life, scriptures tell us so. But just because it is guaranteed does not mean it should be pursued. Just think of a money situation. Most everyone will have some financial struggles at some point of their life, and some for their entire life. It is an obvious guarantee of life. We all have to work and we all have to earn money. Even though we are certain to face financial woes, we never intentionally pursue these troubling times. And rightly so. Has anyone intentionally tried to lose their job and become months behind on mortgage and credit card payments just so they can struggle in a area of life that is inevitable? Of course not. Then why would any Christian want to explore persecution just for awakening zeal.

Individually Xians don’t need to pursue persecution. And the American Church does not need to create or encourage a culture that persecutes us. It is my suspicion that the zeal in persecuted Xians was present before the persecution.  

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One Response to “The Source of Zeal”

  1. Erick said

    Xians? What the heck?

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