“With Christ as my witness, I speak with utter truthfulness. My conscience and the Holy Spirit confirm it. My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them. They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God’s adopted children. God revealed his glory to them. He made covenants with them and gave them his law. He gave them the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises.” – Romans 9:1-4.
Some people cynically believe that the epitaph of society should read: “Our civilization died because it couldn’t be bothered. Call it apathy, call it indifference, the reality is that things that once mattered don’t seem to matter as much. People seem to go through life with less interest, curiosity, creativity, or passion. So what are you passionate about? I mean really passionate about? Or put another way, what do you care about most?
We cannot read Romans 9 without understanding Paul’s burning passion for lost souls. Paul is deeply sad that many Israelites were not in a right standing before God (through faith in Christ), despite knowing firsthand who Christ is. Paul said he would be willing to be cut off from Christ for the sake of his Israeli brothers and sisters who were separated from Christ.
Paul’s desire for the salvation of his people is similar to that of Moses in Exodus 32:30-32 when Moses visits the Lord after the people of Israel sin in making the golden calf. Moses says to the people of Israel, “Perhaps I will be able to obtain forgiveness for your sin.” Then he says to the Lord, “ But now, if you will only forgive their sin—but if not, erase my name from the record you have written.” Moses’ love for his people was self-sacrificial, like Paul’s. He was willing to be cut off for their salvation.
Listen to the apostle’s prayer for us in 1 Thessalonians 3:12, “And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows.” A passion for the lost means we are concerned for those people who come across our path.
As you read or study the gospels, take some time to note every instance where Jesus demonstrates His intense affection for the lost. Then find a way to internalize these passages. You could journal about them, memorize them, or get together with friends to discuss them. And then pray for a real passion for the lost.
There are nearly 8 billion people on the planet today, and every one of them needs to hear about Jesus. There are a lot of wonderful activities, programs, and ministries in the church, but none of them should take the place of a real passion for the lost.
- Do you believe that anyone is beyond God’s reach and love? Why or why not? How does your answer impact your view of those far from the heart of God?
- Why do you think the Lord Jesus put such a strong emphasis on proclaiming the Gospel?