While on vacation in London I visited the National Portrait Gallery. I was impressed by a series of cartoons of William E. Gladstone, British politician and Prime Minister during Queen Victoria’s reign. The cartoonist showed Gladstone giving speeches in the House of Commons He is portrayed as being very theatrical, arguing passionately for his legislation. Apparently he believed that he needed to be passionate in his communication as an actor needed to be in order to make his performance believable to his hearers.
The need for passion in communication was reinforced by attending several musicals: On the Town, Jane Eyre, The Braille Legacy and An American in Paris. The virtuosity of the actors and actresses was remarkable. They threw themselves into their parts in order to communicate their message. Nothing was held back. They were committed to persuading their audience of the reality and importance of their part. The energy involved was palpable.
I took away from all these impressions the need for Christian worship to be passionate if it is to convince people of the importance of what we are doing. In particular the preacher needs to be passionate in his communication of the Gospel if it means anything. We do not need to be ho hum and business as usual if we are to convince people of the Gospel. We should put all our energy into what we are doing and saying and singing if we are to be believable.
I saw another instance of this in the British election which was held while I was there. The Labor party leader is a Marxist but he managed to persuade a lot of people that his ideas were feasible through his passionate electioneering. In contrast the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, presented a cool and calm exterior arguing for a stable and strong government and did not attempt to counter her opponents’ attacks. She seemed above the fray and not persuasive. As a result she lost her majority in Parliament.
Marshall McLuhan, the renowned communications theorist, wrote about hot and cool communication. There are times for cool communication, but in the fray of today’s debates on the media, we have to be willing to exhibit some passionate conviction about the truth of the Gospel and our desperate need of the saving power of Christ. Am I passionate about what I believe enough to argue for the Gospel as Gladstone did for his causes? Do you think that your church needs to be more passionate?