I love to dance. And I love to perform.
One of the compliments that I both receive and give the most often, is "When you dance, you look like you love it," or "I can't keep my eyes off of you when you're on stage- your face lights up and I am enraptured," or "I can tell that you were made to dance, because you show it with your expressions onstage."
I receive these compliments and hear them given to others very often, from dancers and non-dancers, alike. Comments on the dancer's technique, flexibility, or impressive moves are not as often heard as comments about their expression and smile.
Why? Because passion is attractive. Technique is secondary to the portrayal of emotion. Regardless of how neat the footwork is or how graceful the arm movements are, the audience's eyes are directed to the people whose faces shine the brightest, whose smiles are the most genuine, and whose eyes light up the most.
Imagine you're watching the Grammy Awards. An artist is called up to receive her award. She walks up to give her acceptance speech, and it goes something like this: "Thank you all so much... but I actually hate music. My Mum forced me to practice when I was younger, thinking I would learn to love it, but I can't think of anything I hate more than singing and recording. I'm in it for the money. Thanks, again."
It's just weird! People would be muttering, confused, angry, or just speechless. People win music awards because they love music. People get to the Olympics because they love their sport. People win academic contests and receive scholarships for the subjects that they are passionate about. It's the things that we love and value the most that we pursue the most vigorously.
...and there's something about that passionate pursuit that we are drawn to. Watching someone actively doing something that they were born for- it's one of the most beautiful things. The way musicians will close their eyes and sway to the melodies they are making... the way athletes will wake up before dawn so that they can get a few more hours of practice in... the way teachers beam when their students make them proud... it's an unmatched beauty.
I'm sorry to admit that I've had way more people commend my passion for dance, than my passion for Jesus. It is common, after recitals, for people to tell me "Wow, I can tell that you love dancing." It's not quite as common, however, for people to tell me, "Wow, I can tell that you love Jesus by the way you act." Is my passion dead? Is my love for Him half-hearted?
Take a moment and think of your church community. If you don't attend church, think of Christians that you know. When I go through some people in my mind, I can easily identify the ones whose genuine passion for God is obvious. In the way they talk, in their gentleness and patience, in their authentic love for people- it's just so REAL. It's like they cannot be anything but joyful, because they are constantly living in the knowledge of the reality of Heaven. They work efficiently, and serve wholeheartedly. They take an interest in everyone they talk to. They volunteer. They are humble. They are considerate. They make time for people. They just look like they are in love with who they are in Christ. They are in love with Jesus.
But sadly, it is also very easy to pick out the ones who portray the image of Christianity being a chore. The ones who grumble as they work. They may volunteer, but out of obligation and guilt. They complain. People don't often approach them, because they know they will not be treated affectionately. They look haggard. Worn. Tired. Grumpy. Their eyes are dim. They just give the idea that they are trudging through life.
I know I've been both those kinds of people. I wish I could say that I am the description of the first person, but I am more often the second. It's like I forget about the joy that Christ has given us. The awesome, jaw-dropping, out-of-this-world truth that we have been forgiven... gets lost. It gets lost in the busyness of day-to-day life. And then, the passion slows to a crawl. Instead of running after Jesus, instead of singing in His presence, instead of pursuing Him like a long-needed drink of water... we follow Him like it's a burdensome assignment.
Luke 10:38-42~ As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
I become like Martha, when who I really want to be like is Mary. I become enraptured with my responsibilities as a Christian, when I should be enraptured with my Lord. I become consumed with my physical good works... when I should be consumed with my love for God!
Remember how in the audience, both the dancers and the non-dancers watch the person who shines. Not the one who has the most pointed feet, not the one who has the highest kicks, not the one who jumps the highest... but the one who smiles, who lifts her chin and projects, and who uses her face and eyes to tell the story of how much she loves to dance.
In the same way, both believers and non-believers alike are not convinced by actions only. People are not attracted to machines, or workhorses. No, it is the people who live with the very light of Christ inside of them that draw attention from others. People are fascinated with those who go about their tasks cheerfully, honestly, patiently, humbly, and with integrity. It's the people who actually show that they are madly in love with Jesus, who get asked about it. The love that they show is something that people can't understand- but something that they know they need.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and
complete, not lacking anything.
If you are a believer, a true believer, then you know that everything you see now is temporary. You know that the pain you endure, the sorrow you suffer, the time and effort you spend, the hard work you do... it will not last. Some day soon, you will meet your Maker. You will meet your Redeemer. You will meet your Saviour. You will meet the One whom you call LORD. KING. FATHER. GOD. In light of all this beauty and joy that will be revealed to you... is a bad attitude ever justified?
1 Peter 1:8-9~
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now,
you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
for you are receiving the end result of your faith,
the salvation of your souls.
If someone were to try to describe you... would it sound like that?
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.