The Africa I love, serve, and pray for is at war. It is not a conventional war, but it is war none the less. It is being waged by one man’s passion that causes many men pain. New names are appearing on the global landscape as enemies of a peaceful world. You’ve heard about them-al Qaeda, al Shabaab, now it is the ISIS in Iraq. They have in common that they are a gang of violent men led by even more violent men. The word passionately describes them all.
Usually behind the scenes of terrorism there is a passionate leader, a man possessed of great charisma, capable of transferring his passion and vision to others. Such is the nature of leadership. Those who can lead do immense good or terrible harm.
History repeats the story of passion and pain. Angry, megalomaniac men rise up as national leaders, tribal chiefs, or even as kings; then decide to extend their rule, ideology, and religion upon others. When they do-hell has no fury like a passionate madman leading other madmen diluted by his “vision.”
Adolf Hitler was such a man. In the beginning Hitler’s charm, oratory, and passion for Nationalist Socialism was welcomed and applauded by the German populace. Germany was broken economically, downtrodden from the 1st World War, and ready for change. At first, they loved this passionate guy, yet lived to pay for their folly in the following years. Hitler’s passion became the world’s pain!
Osama Bin Laden was such a man. Crazed by hatred for the West, he deemed to be damned and damnable; he passionately led his men into the blind passion of radical Islam, raised up an army of terrorists whose hearts are filled with his hatred. His passion became their madness and our pain. Today, Bin Laden’s clones are everywhere doing his dirty work. His passion, our pain.
Which brings me to this:
We must all be passionate about something. Passion is the outflow of our inner energy-our life force.
Passionless men are so neutral, they are almost worthless. Passion is good when we are passionate about the right things. When a leader is passionate about love, kindness, goodness and such, his passion flows over others like a sweet smelling ointment-it anoints a culture and country with the oil of pleasure – not pain. Jesus was such a leader. He meant to win men’s hearts so he could transform them into men and women who passionately advance the kingdom of God. His passion was for us to have peace with God and to know the peace of God between men of good will. Those through the years who have followed Jesus passionately have blessed the earth’s inhabitants with the message of joy, love and peace.
Africa is aflame today, not because bad men are throwing bombs at buses, or shooting AK47 bullets into malls. It is ablaze with hatred, because not enough good men are as passionate about Jesus as the bad guys are about their leader. Their zeal makes our religion look weak and anemic by comparison. We need to stop cursing the darkness and start lighting more candles. Good when graced by God always pushes back the darkness. I, for one, am passionate about lighting my candles until my fingers are burned. How about you?