Passion yes. aggression, no.
Never lukewarm, but passionate.
However there is a world of spiritual difference between passionate and aggressive and those at the receiving end know the difference only too well.
I think all disciples start off thinking aggressive is passionate, because aggressive comes naturally to us, but 'passionate' is a slow deep work of the Holy Spirit within our hearts.
James and John who turned out wonderfully well had to go through this stage in their development.. In Luke 9:53 we read about their reaction to the Samaritans would not receive Jesus whom they loved and followed.
Doubtless they believed this reaction to be true Godly passion for the things of God Jesus however, knew differently. It was simply soulish spiritual aggression.
It is wonderful to read John's writings and see how he evolved from an aggressive disciple into the passionate man of God.
John's brother James left no legacy in ink, but with blood. He was martyred for his faith. (Acts 12:2)
Who was more aggressive than the young disciple Peter? We read in John 18:10 of his natural reaction to an attack on the Jesus whom he loved and followed.
Jesus did not congratulate him but told him to put his sword back into its sheath. The word of God is the sword of the SPIRIT, not the sword of man, and when man uses the sword aggressively it brings damage not life. The letter always kills because an aggressive soul wields it rather than the Spirit wielding it.
It is wonderful to read that - in His mercy - Jesus redeemed the damage that Peter's natural aggression caused. In Luke 22:51 we read..
There was a period of several years when I knew that I was called to be a teacher. I knew that God had graciously given me a substantial understanding of His Kingdom, yet He was clearly not opening doors within His church for me to teach the understandings that He had given me.
I resisted the temptation to blame 'the church' because I knew that God could open the door in an instant if He chose to. So eventually I prayed and asked why He was not opening doors. The response to my prayer did not come quickly, but perhaps a year later. Then suddenly these words dropped quietly deep into my spirit.
I was shaken by this revelation. It was only as I was honest with myself that I began to realise that my passion and 'fire' for the Kingdom of God was merely spiritual aggression for 'the cause'
As I re-read scripture and saw Jesus' reaction to the woman at the well, the adulteress, the corrupt tax collector in the tree I realised that although He brought them uncompromising truth, He brought that uncompromising truth with grace. This grace meant that those in great need of the truth were drawn to Him like a magnet because they felt safe around Him who was the Truth.
Only the aggressive Pharisees did not love Him. They were aggressively guarding God's Word and because they were of a different spirit they did not recognise the Word become flesh and standing in their midst.
Indeed I realised that only Jesus had the right to speak to the Pharisees and the teachers of the law as He did because He was willing to die for them.
Slowly through prayer, my heart for those in need of a touch from Jesus has softened, is still softening, and will, I pray be softened until .. well until people see Jesus in my life and not just me.
Jesus used a South African missionary to Ireland to help change my life in this direction. One evening he and his wife were coming to our home for dinner. I would normally have prayed beforehand that my wife and I would be a blessing to them, but this time, to my surprise, I found my heart crying out to God, 'Please let Joe be a blessing to me tonight' I knew that this must be the Spirit of God preparing my heart for something that I needed to receive.
During the meal 'Joe' talked of how difficult it had been to find a church where they could settle into, as he had found two uncomfortable extremes at work. Those with grace but sorely lacking in truth, and, more commonly, those with truth but sorely lacking in grace. He then quoted a verse that I had never really noticed before. John 1:17
For the first time I really saw Christ's ministry clearly, and how I loved what I saw. It was like fresh air and liberty flooding in. He was Grace made manifest and He was the Truth made manifest. To divide them was to divide Christ Himself. I noticed that grace preceded truth, not visa versa. I realised that I could not represent - be an ambassador for, a living letter from - the Kingdom of God unless I lived on those twin tracks.
Some time later a Canadian couple stayed with us, and as they were going they gave us a small framed picture with the quote from 2nd Peter 3:18 Another verse I had never noticed before.
There it was again. Grace and knowledge. With grace preceding again.
A quick check on the computer showed how often the Spirit of God placed 'grace' in front of - and an integral part of - a blessing. Grace and favour (Esther 2:17). Grace and glory (Psalm 84:10) Grace and supplication (Zechariah 12:10) Grace and apostleship (Romans 1:5) Grace and of the gift of righteousness (Romans 5:17) Grace and peace (2nd Peter 1:2)
No one was more naturally spiritually aggressive than Saul, who of course became Paul. Yet it is truly wonderful to see that it was he who was eventually able to pen the greatest exposition of Christian love that has ever been written. 1st Corinthians chapter 13.
When Paul wrote strong letters to the various churches teaching and correcting them, he always topped and tailed his letters with great grace from a Christ like heart. Even to the troublesome church at Corinth we read of grace making the way for the truth that would follow..
The Lord's brother James - who matured from his early opposition to Jesus (John 7:5) into a greatly respected leader of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:13) - wrote eloquently against spiritual aggression in brother Christians.
When God asked me to start a web site in the mid-90's I honestly had no idea that He would use it to carry the material that it now carries. Perhaps if I had known fear might have stopped me! Yet step by step web over the years the site has evolved as you now see it.
If in the site you sense a passion for Christ and His Kingdom then I am blessed. If you sense, in places, soulish aggression, then there I have failed.
But bear with me as I seek to do what Peter counsels. To grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
[see also The Pharisee spirit]