Going into Passion 2019, I truly had no idea what to expect. Some knew every speaker and artist that we would be seeing, but I chose the route of simply signing up and rolling with it. The first session, we were led in worship by Sean Curran, and the energy in the arena was something I had never experienced on such a large scale. Without any real delay, we moved right into worship- some songs familiar and some very new. Throughout worship, Sean addressed the passage in the Gospel of Mark in which a father askes Jesus to save his dying son. Jesus replies that for whoever believes, all things are possible. The father exclaims, “I BELIEVE! But help my unbelief”. I didn’t go into Passion with any real expectation that Jesus would radically change me over the course of three days, but I realized on night one that I had fallen into an all too familiar unbelief. Believing in stagnancy, believing that your faith cannot be refreshed and renewed when you have been a believer for years, that is unbelief.
In the first talk, Louie Giglio spoke about the basics of our identity, specifically in the form of a father-child relationship. He told us, “On the cross Jesus Christ was forsaken by his father so you would never be forsaken by your Abba Father”. With this talk, he set the tone for the entirety of the conference, bringing us back to simple truth by reminding us who we are in the Lord, and that because God is who He says He is, we also are who God says we are. There is nothing on this earth that can prevent us from experiencing adoption by the one true king, except ourselves and our own distorted and misplaced unbelief.
The next morning Chad Veech preached from Hebrews. In essence, he explained that because we are made to be heirs of Christ, “our souls crave the presence of the Lord”. He then explained that whatever we find ourselves running to is what we trust, stating, “We cannot get temporary fixes when we need an everlasting solution”. If our identity is truly in the Lord, then we will find ourselves coming up short if we seek identity elsewhere. Following his talk, we were led in worship by Mosaic and Lecrae, both of which were incredibly unique and rich worship experiences, closing out a morning of convicting word.
Later that day, we heard from Matt Chandler who preached from John 4. He explained that when Jesus went to the woman at the well, he went there intentionally. He spoke to her about her many husbands, not to call her out or necessarily criticize her, but to gently “call out her deepest brokenness and her deepest shame, tending to her wounds to set her free from them”. It was during this talk that I realized the Lord had brought me to Passion intentionally. He had a purpose for my presence there, and there were ways in which He was preparing my heart to change. This realization of mine continued into the evening’s talk with Christine Caine, who again spoke on unbelief. She preached on Mark 6, where Jesus was rejected by his own people at Nazareth. To this she explained, “When you become too familiar with blessings, grace, and salvation, then Jesus can do no miracles amongst us”. It was not lack of power that stopped Jesus from performing miracles in Nazareth, but rather unbelief.
The Lord was once again prodding at my own heart, putting truth before my eyes that I had become all too familiar with. I felt “steady” in my faith because I had ceased to be shocked by the magnitude of the cross. How easy it is to let something we have known since we were small fail to astonish us anymore. In reality, Jesus’ sacrifice, that part of his story, is the living breathing word of God. Jesus is the word, the bread of life, and the living water. Historically, the passion of our Christ happened long ago, but the revelation it brought to our relationship with our God is still very much alive, and should still very much amaze us every single day.