We read much in scripture about zeal. In Psalm 69, David speaks of the zeal of God consuming him despite all the calamities that were being inflicted upon him. Psalm 119 finds the author literally worn out by his zeal; he is exhausted by a righteous anger over those who have forsaken the teachings of the Lord. In the New Testament, Paul writes in Galatians that it is good to be zealous for the right things (Galatians 4:18).
The book of Titus states that God’s people will be zealous to do good works. Finally, in the book of Revelation, Jesus Himself tells us to be zealous and repent. Different versions of the Bible translate the word zealous as earnest, eager or committed. The point is that we should diligently strive to do the good works that Christ has given us to do.
What would it look like if all the Christians in your neighborhood began to be zealous for God? How might that impact not only your area, but also your city? What if those who proclaim to follow Christ everywhere began to truly live out their calling with great zeal, with a passion that would not be denied? The result would be a world that would not know poverty, hunger or homelessness. We would truly be a part of bringing the Kingdom of God to reality here on earth. Most would agree this is a wonderful, though unrealistic, picture of the world. It is unrealistic only to the extent that we who are the hands and feet of Jesus are unwilling to bring it to fruition.
Every day we have numerous opportunities to put our zeal for the Word of God into action. We all encounter people in need every day of our lives if we would simply open our eyes. Neighbors, coworkers, cashiers, fellow shoppers, and motorists present countless occasions to demonstrate the love of Christ. Every interaction is a divine moment just waiting to be seized. If we are nonchalant in our attitude towards service, the moments will pass us by. Yet if zeal for God consumes us, we will act upon every opportunity that is presented. We will not be able to walk away from the chance to live out the mission of God. Like Jesus, we will be compelled to do the will of the Father.
One cannot be zealous for God and self-absorbed at the same time. Following Jesus is about looking outward; to focus inward is to be caught up with the ways of this world, the ways that are opposed to Christ. All of our energies are to be spent on loving others, not ourselves. The great paradox is that the more love we give, the more loved we feel. Conversely, when we seek out ways to try and feel loved, we instead find only loneliness and despair. To be fully understood and enjoyed, love must be given away. This is demonstrated nowhere more perfectly than when Jesus gave His life for ours. It was love that hung on the cross, and it is love that redeems us from death.
So why are we not more zealous for God? When we reflect on His love and all that He has done for us, why are we not compelled to give everything we have for His sake? The world in which we live presents many distractions; money, entertainment, and social standing all clamor for top billing in our lives. Only Jesus can bring us peace; only He can bring true meaning. Chasing after anything else is futile. If we would devote the time we spent on trivial pursuits to God instead, the world around us would be changed. If all of us together lived lives of zealous devotion, the entire planet would be transformed. This is what it means to be a follower of Jesus. We follow Him and no one else.
When God’s zeal consumes you, you cannot be stopped. Zeal is the fuel for our passion, and passion provides the means for continuing the mission of Christ. We cannot love people the way God commands us without first loving Him with our entire being. The more you learn about Jesus, the more you will love Him. The more you understand what He gave up for each person on this earth, the more in awe you will become. God is Holy and unlike any other. He is awesome in glory and powerful in might. Only He deserves our devotion. Drink deeply of His love and let His zeal consume you. Then reach out to the world around you and reflect His love. Together we will continue His mission, and together we will impact our world.