Lost Lessons and Preserved Passions

D A CarsonD.A. Carson’s Gospel Coalition message entitled “What is the Gospel?” is very good. Give it a listen.

What’s interesting is that the lesson that especially stuck with me precedes the meat of the message and has relatively little to do with its main topic. Listen to Dr. Carson, who knows a thing or two about teaching:

“[O]ur hearers inevitably are drawn to that about which we are most passionate. Every teacher knows that. My students are unlikely to learn all that I teach them. I’ve resigned myself to that for a long time. They’re most likely to learn what I’m excited about.”

With that in mind, I ask you, what are you passionate about, Pastor? Teacher? Parent? Is it what you want your students to remember above all else? Is it central to the Scriptures or peripheral? Is it worthy of the passion you’re giving it? Is it worthy to be the spiritual inheritance you pass on to the next generation and share with this one?

Carson continues, telling us exactly what he believes our passion should be:

“If the gospel is merely assumed while relatively peripheral issues ignite our passion, we will train a new generation to downplay the gospel and focus in on the peripheral. It is easy to sound prophetic from the margins. What is urgently needed is to be prophetic from the center. What is to be feared, in the famous words of T. S. Eliot, is that ‘the center does not hold.’ Moreover, if, in fact, we do focus on the gospel, and understand it aright, we shall soon see how this gospel rightly understood directs how to think about and what to do about a vast array of other kinds of issues.”

Give this matter some serious thought. What is the big idea which makes you tick, the one that will outlive you? Is it really that important? To cut to the chase, if it’s not the Person and Work of Christ, what is it?

We’d better choose wisely.


7 Responses

  1. Speaking of peripheral issues igniting my passion…

    Unless I’m mistaken and Eliot said the same thing, the quote he mentioned is from W. B. Yeats’s “The Second Coming.”


    I’m quite thankful for the substance of this post, especially as a new school year is about to start. I’m teaching two Theology classes this semester, and the reminder that students will be passionate about that which I’m passionate is sobering. His observation that the gospel is often “assumed” is spot-on.

  2. Excellent, thought-provoking post! Thanks for that.

  3. […] Anderson’s “Lost Lessons and Preserved Passions” is exactly right. Since the gospel of Jesus the Messiah is central, it must be central in […]

  4. Chris,

    I thought about it for about ten seconds and thoroughly did not like what I found. I have decided that I do not like you or D.A. Carson anymore. I am going to read something by Joel Osteen and heal up a little bit. I do not like to hear about the inner chump in me. I want to hear about the inner champ.

  5. I’m glad Carson’s words have been helpful. It is sobering to realize that while people will forget the vast majority of what I say, they’ll not be able to help catching my passion. I see that happen at TCBC. This body is passionate about worship, about the Gospel, about studying the Word. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” The downside? The issues I ought to be passionate about and have not been (whether evangelism, missions, etc.) are also areas where they reflect their leadership. It cuts both ways.

    What Carson says, in conjunction with James 3:1, is absolutely terrifying.

    One more thought: That’s the problem with being passionate about something like separation. Is that really the main thing? Much better to be so passionate about the Gospel that I’m willing to battle for it and separate for it—not because I love the fight, but because I love the truth. There’s a huge difference. That’s the spirit of Jude, who preferred to write about the gospel he loved but instead was forced to write a defense of it.

  6. […] Carson on how we transmit only that about which we’re most passionate […]

  7. […] Rerun: Lost Lessons and Preserved Passions Posted on May 12, 2010 by Chris This is worth re-posting. What is the thing those under your influence are most likely to remember, even when they’ve forgotten everything else you’ve said? (Originally posted on 8/15/07.) […]

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