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Come, Play Your Hearts Out!

The Church is the perfect arena for our passions

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God longs for us to legitimately express—not suppress—all of who we are as individuals. Embracing and releasing all of our energy and potential glorifies the God who created us. Why is it that so often we allow Satan to distort our passions into something embarrassing and shameful and we end up trying hard to hide big parts of ourselves? One wintry stretch, I believe God hinted at the answer for me.

Caught in the Act

The trees stood naked in the frigid Canadian winter. Smoke from the crackling fires in stoves and furnaces inside warm homes rose straight upward. The cold air bit at the top of jackets and played havoc with the ever-vulnerable nose. Winter was so severe that schools were closed four days in a row.

When the kids finally got back to their friends at school, their schedules were still affected by the weather. The children remained cooped up in the classroom for the entire lunch break and through recess as well. Around our supper table, my daughter, Tessa, shared a near scrape she had with the “law” during one of those indoor recesses.

Tessa and her friend Emma had found a basketball in the classroom. Because they were suffering from cabin fever, they gave themselves to their childhood passions. The supervising adult had stepped from the classroom, so Tessa seized the opportunity and passed the ball to Emma. When Emma returned it, however, the ball gained a little “air time” in the exchange. The air time grew with each pass as the distance between the girls stretched.

A lunch supervisor happened to peer into the window of the door while the ball was in mid air. The girls were caught. “Come with me,” the supervisor said. The girls’ hearts sank. That is, they sank until the supervisor added, “. . . to the gym, where you can play your hearts out!”

Gifted with Passion

When Tessa told me that story, my first response was to praise the supervisor’s wisdom. I was thankful my child is being shaped by a person not so far away from her own childhood that she simply instructs, “You must tow the line here.” Thankfully, that supervisor lives according to the spirit of school rules, not the letter.

That is a beautiful picture of the Church. The Church, I thought, is not a place to squelch passion or deny it; the Church’s role is to invite the release of all the good stuff God has poured into our hearts. The self-righteous legalist pokes his holier-than-thou nose into life’s classrooms, hoping for an opportunity to catch and condemn.

However, I want to be the kind of pastor that looks into the classroom of life, observing the guilty-looking “students” with hope. I want to remain honest enough that I not simply instruct, “You must tow the line here.” I want to look at the students and, seeing their dignity, surprise them with an invitation to the gym. “Come,” I want to say, “Come to the Church and purposefully, powerfully live out your calling here. Come, not to squelch who you are, but to release all of who you are into God’s Kingdom.”

I want to say to the teen, in trouble for painting graffiti in public places, “Come! Align your life with God’s purposes and make your mark—your huge permanent mark—in this world for Him. And hey, while you’re at it, express yourself on the walls of our church’s teen room. It could use a little pick-me-up.”

I want to say to the musician singing songs that encourage disengagement from responsible living to rather invite his audience to remain engaged in life—marriage, family, church—and experience the peace of God, which transcends all understanding.
I want to say, “Come! Come and play your God-given, God-honoring passionate hearts out!”

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