John wrote to the church at Laodicea and gave them the injunction, “…so be zealous and repent.” That word “zealous” is a pretty old-fashioned term. Today we might substitute in the word “fanatical.” But in our culture, being a fanatic isn’t generally regarded as a good thing.
But wait a second, turn on a television set in almost any country around the world and watch a soccer match. Football fanatics scream about their teams. Everyone knows about the key players; the schedule is memorized and the wins are celebrated.
And the world of sports isn’t the only place where “fanatics” live. A a quick glance at the news headlines will show some more shades of fervent behavior.
“Your iPhone addiction is about to get even more expensive.” “McDonald’s $300 million Technology Deal Will Revolutionize Menus.” “The trade was a massive blow to the company.” “Inside the frantic last two months, the country has been pulled apart.”
Notice those terms: Addiction. Revolutionize. Massive Blow. Frantic last 2 months. Sounds like fanatical behavior to me.
So why is it so hard to use that term “zealot” in a spiritual context? Why is it so difficult to see ourselves in a positive light while we serve the Lord as “zealots?”
Truth is, in today’s world if someone is referred to as “a zealot” he is likely a religious radical. But it wasn’t always so. In our Bible, one of the 12 apostles was called, Simon the Zealot. He is only mentioned four times in the scriptures and the only thing we know about him is that he is among the original apostles.
Church tradition suggests that after Christ’s resurrection, he traveled to Egypt to share the gospel and eventually went to Persia where he was martyred. Some suggest that he was numbered among the nationalistic Jews who sought independence from Roman rule. But there isn’t hard evidence of that. What we know for sure is that he had real zeal for serving the Lord.
In order to be a zealot, one needs to be passionately in pursuit of Jesus. They need to spend a lot of time and energy supporting the cause of Christ. They need to be devoted to the things of the Lord and demonstrate an uncompromising commitment towards His church.
If those things are true about us, we too can proudly wear that moniker. So, this week let’s all try it on for size. Let’s tighten up our pursuit of Jesus and let our commitment to Him be known. Let’s demonstrate our zeal for the things that matter to Him.
And soon we will be known as…Adam the Zealot. Noah the Zealot. Jessica the Zealot. Kelly the Zealot. Michael the Zealot. Philip the Zealot. Debra the Zealot. Maybe even, Sherry the Zealot.
That title has a real ring to it!