A Passion for Jesus

As we continue to consider “What characterizes our movement?” from The Navigators Vision, we come to another characteristic: “Laborers and leaders are emerging, with an increasing passion for Jesus Christ.”
Jesus. Knowing Jesus. Loving Jesus. Becoming like Jesus. Our ultimate goal is to see more and more laborers and leaders growing in their passionate love for Jesus!
The story of Zacchaeus helps us understand how to develop leaders who are passionate about Jesus (see Luke 19:1-10). Unfortunately, we have too often reduced it to flannelgraphs and songs sung by brightly colored vegetables. When we do so we can miss the powerful nature of this encounter.
In the account of Zacchaeus, Luke brings together three of his most prominent themes: Jesus’ relationship with outsiders (usually called tax collectors and sinners), the transformation caused by faith, and the relationship of money to discipleship. These themes are woven throughout Luke’s Gospel and come together in the meeting with the diminutive tax collector who climbed a tree.
I’m struck by this verse: “And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature” (Luke 19:3, ESV).
Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, but because of the crowd, he couldn’t. This had to do with the crowds who literally blocked his view. Yet it also tells us something about the way his sin caused him to be excluded from the very faith community that could have offered him repentance and a way back to God. Jesus’ gospel message was, “I need to come to your house today.”
That is what broke him. As a result, Zacchaeus repented and made restitution, and salvation came to his house. Note that he did not follow Jesus to Jerusalem, but he stayed behind in Jericho among the same neighbors who had shunned him.
This is how a laborer with a passion for Jesus emerges. People on the outside are suddenly included through radical actions of love and care by people on the inside. When people have a real encounter with the real Jesus, the result is life change.
Zacchaeus demonstrated his passion for Jesus by giving away a bunch of his wealth. He emerged as a laborer by staying behind in Jericho and living among those he had wronged. No doubt his total life-change gave him plenty of opportunities to share his newfound hope, “the hope that is in you” (see 1 Peter 3:15).
Where do we look for emerging laborers and leaders? I long for it to be more and more the norm that we find them among the lost—people like Zacchaeus, people like those his life touched. The people who don’t know Jesus are often the ones who are trying to see Him but are blocked not only by their transgressions but by religious crowds as well.
Let’s “get in their homes,” meet them on their turf, and show them Jesus’ acceptance and love. Let’s see those who are “lost” become “found” and followed-up. And may we see the emergence of new laborers and leaders with a passion for Jesus and the advance of His Good News!
For Your Consideration:

  • Think of someone you know who shows an obvious passion for Jesus. What factors have led to that passion? (You may want to take that person out for coffee and ask him or her.)
  • What stirs your own passion for Jesus?
  • Whom do you know that is “on the outside”? How might you reach out to him or her with Jesus’ love?

Al Engler is the director of Nav Neighbors. To contact him or to learn more about his ministry, click here.

Editor's Note: This is one in a series of articles unpacking the Navigator vision. The series begins with Unpacking Our Vision: An Introduction.