• Hannah Dearth

The Difference Between Passion and Purpose When it Comes to Loving Others Well

Updated: Dec 14, 2019

By: Hannah Dearth


I like to think I am a fairly passionate person. I’m sensitive. I love big. I care deeply for those in my life and I so want them and others to know they matter (do you hear that enneagram 2 in me?). I think there is a difference though, in passion and in purpose. We have to be careful of what we define in our lives as our passions, and what we define as our purpose.

Hear me out...passions can change, while purpose... purpose is an intended function. Purpose is what something or someone is created for. A person in the Bible that I can relate to, that helps explain this important distinction, is Peter.

Do you remember Peter? He was... passionate for following Jesus. He dropped literally everything in his life to do so. He is likely best known as the disciple who boldly walked out onto the water to meet Jesus...but then began to worry...and then sink. Peter was also told by Jesus that he would deny him three times just before his death. Prior to this, Peter was the first to jump in and say how much he cared for Jesus, and that he wanted to go where he was going. He swore how much he cared for him! When Jesus was arrested, likely filled with that same strong emotion, he even cut off one of the men’s ears!! Seeing that alone... I want that strong emotion...I feel that...

I care for Jesus! I love Jesus! I feel I’m at a place in my faith where I can jump up and say I am a Christian and feel a passion behind it like that! I could never go back to a walk without Jesus! I could never live without him!

Well... Peter did end up denying Jesus... all three times. After the first time, it says he began to literally follow him from a distance. Then the second and third times he got louder, he swore he didn’t know that man! It alludes that Peter was scared, he was under pressure. He was probably quite literally fearing for his life.

It is easy for me to read the story and nearly scoff... I would never do that. How could he?! But do you know what? Sometimes I get scared, down, and frustrated in a moment or even in a season... and some of my responses I could definitely see as my way of not fully choosing Jesus first and claiming him over my life. I can get prideful with my husband. I can get envious of others.... and all the while God is saying why aren’t you choosing me first? Why are you holding this so tightly for yourself? Turn to me, proclaim me in your heart and life, call my name. Call me... call me your friend. I’m here. What are you doing? Why are you walking at a distance?

Peter was not the only one of Jesus close friends to betray him in some way. Judas, also did. However, Judas, after realizing the weight of his actions, tried to give his guilt over to someone else. He tried to take it back in his own way and continue to control it. He didn’t seek Jesus and he didn’t fully seek repentance. Then, the shame. All of that became too much. I know that weight. That impossible heavy feeling that I cannot carry on no matter what I try to do on my own.

This is where the story of Peter is different. It says after Peter denied Jesus the last time that he wept bitterly. He ugly cried. I’m sure that we all have had a few ugly cries from time to time. The heavy sobbing, snot and all. Peter felt more than shame or guilt, he felt conviction. He was living with a passion for Jesus... when he realized his purpose was Jesus. Walking with Jesus, learning from Jesus, doing life with Jesus was more than a passion or a well loved hobby that comes and goes, more than something that we can rid ourselves of and go on about our lives.

Loving Jesus, and loving others like Jesus called Peter to, is what Peter was made for. It was the nature of his creation. There is no substitute. There is no sometimes. There is no I care about it a lot when it’s easy. When it’s comfortable. Loving Jesus and loving others the way he loves us... is not only Peter’s purpose... but all of ours.

If you haven’t read about Peter, I would challenge you to check out how his story turns around when Jesus returns from the grave. It’s beautiful, and it’s so relevant for all of us in how we can live when we move from passion to purpose in our faith and in our relationships. It’s also a reminder of how time and time again, he welcomes us back when we miss the mark.

Today, I challenge you to ask yourself. Am I loving Jesus, and others, with just a passion, or am I fulfilling it as my purpose?

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