The Chinese “Obsession” with Starbucks… Average annual income in China is $2050 or about $5.50 per day! They spend 25% of their income on food or $1.40 per day. A grande Starbucks latte in China is $4.75! And according to a recent Chinese news report, the Chinese are obsessed with Starbucks, spending upwards of one-eighth of their income on it! Zou Deqiang, a Chinese university professor said, “In China, Starbucks is not just coffee anymore,” he said. “It represents a Western lifestyle. Some people in China want to live like people live in the developed countries so, to some extent, drinking a cup of coffee that people in the US drink helps them fulfill that dream; actually we’re obsessed with this!” NOW I’M OBSESSED WITH TOG!!
Obsession defined… “The domination of one’s thoughts or feelings by a persistent feeling, idea, image, desire…” Passion is “an intense desire or enthusiasm for something; while obsession is an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes a person’s mind! Obsession is really passion that is out of control! There is a fine line between passion and obsession. What makes the distinction confusing is that passion and obsession exhibit very similar behaviors. Yet in many ways, passion and obsession are opposite!
Here’s how the Bible relates the opposite sides of passion and obsession:
- Passion: Ps. 42:1 “As a deer gets thirsty for streams of water, I truly am thirsty for you, my God.” (Hebrew– “having a strong wish, yearning, desire- passion”)
- Obsession: 1 Tim. 6:9-10 “But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” (Greek– “lust after what brings hurt, harm, damage, disaster, ruin, distraction”)
PASSION CAN BE REGULATED; OBSESSION RULES OVER YOU!
Passion is a driving factor towards success, but it is very much controlled by established priorities, a strategy, and a sense of proper perspective. David “thirsted for the Lord like deer thirst for water…” and he incorporated this passion into every aspect of his life; which is how passion works! Obsession, on the other hand, drives you over the edge, makes you be out of control, and pushes you down a path to certain destruction. Paul says that obsessive behavior “plunges you into ruin and destruction…”
I can’t categorize what is passion or what is obsession for your life, but consider this: Passion- “I want to have it.” Not achieving brings disappointment, but you have the internal breathing room to take a deep breath, let it go, and move on appropriately. Obsession- “I have to have it!” Not achieving brings devastation, which can lead to dangerously risky behavior (e.g. becoming obsessed with another person and leaving your spouse, obsessed with having to have stuff, etc.).
David allowed his passion for God to wane and he become obsessed with another man’s wife. So much so, it not only consumed his mind, he had her husband killed, etc.! His life was out of control! That’s what obsession does- it rules over you, takes over you, consumes you, and destroys you, if you allow it. Read Psalm 51 to see how David overcame his obsession… Passion is a thirst that is quenched appropriately. You drown in obsession!
PASSION IS GOAL-ORIENTED; OBSESSION IS SELF-ORIENTED
I mentioned to you last week that one of my passions is to be the best possible leader and pastor I can be. Some of my goals in this area are to be a better communicator, be more compassionate, read more, and have great mentors, etc. I recognize that to become a better leader and pastor I need a variety of experiences and relationships to enable this. Passion, though goal-oriented, reaches out for a broader networking, and diversification to see the goals realized. You see this later in David’s life as it related to building the Temple…
But obsession doesn’t look like that. Obsession has a very specific and narrow focal point- SELF! Obsessive people don’t reach out at all; socially their obsession inhibits relationships, even undermining them. Everything is driven by a selfish objective that becomes increasingly damaging to themselves and others around them. That’s why sinful behavior is both self-obsessive and possessive- taking over your life!
Rom. 6:12 “Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires!” Sin is always about self and that’s why obsessions lead to sinfulness! Sin is what happens when self takes over.
Ever hear of Heidi Montag? At 17, Heidi Montag left her home in Crested Butte, Colo.-and got a fast education in Hollywood beauty when she arrived in L.A. “Everyone had the biggest boobs!” she says. “I was flat and insecure.” Her insecurity only deepened after she landed a role on MTV’s The Hills. In 2007 she had a nose job and a breast augmentation. But it wasn’t enough. “For the past three years I’ve thought about what to have done,” she says. “I am absolutely beyond obsessed.” And so on Nov. 20, with her husband, Spencer Pratt, 26, by her side, Montag, 23, turned up at the Beverly Hills office of her plastic surgeon Dr. Frank Ryan, where she spent 10 hours under the knife…
Hey, I’m not judging Montag, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good. But her own words are, “I’m beyond obsessed!” Plastic surgery isn’t sinful… until, like anything else, it becomes an obsession- Montag’s body became the object of her obsession! It can be a selfish addiction and these addictions become sinful because you become enslaved to them. Passion is goal oriented because it is more about an overarching drive- ME, become a better pastor, leader, etc.
PASSION IS ABOUT THE OUTCOME; OBESSION IS ABOUT THE OUTPUT!
Again, passion drives you to achieve a goal, so it’s about results. I have a passion to climb all 54 14’ers in Colorado. It’s about achieving this outcome. You see it in Paul’s life in the NT- his passion was to preach the Good News to the Gentiles; to not build on another man’s foundation, but to pioneer new outposts for the Gospel!
Rom. 15:20 NLT “My ambition (passion) has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else.”
But obsession becomes more about the effort that goes into the goal, ambition, or desire, than actually achieving it. For example, passion can say, “I want to race a marathon.” The effort is to achieve the goal. But then you can become obsessed with feeling like you have to run the most miles you can! The effort becomes the goal. Runners can become obsessed with “mileage” and have to run so much per day or week regardless of physical condition, etc.
Ron Hill was the prime example of this. He was a British marathoner who never really achieved his best, and his obsession to mileage caused a very up and down career. Now rather than his performances and achievements, he is best known for having the longest documented running streak for consecutive days. Running through sickness, car accidents, even knee surgery; he even hobbled on crutches for 2 miles!
You can become obsessed with output, like dieting, or running, or working; your life is out of control, and in the end, it destroys your life. Prov. 25:28 “A person without self-control is like a city with broken down walls!
PASSION BRINGS ADMIRATION; OBSESSION BRINGS CONDEMNATION!
People with passion, or a drive to be a better person, to serve God, to have the best marriage, or similar desires, truly have the admiration of others. Their drive for these things is a great model for others to emulate. Yes, they may be intense, but we do admire them for their zeal! On the other hand, people with obsessive behaviors can face condemnation because the obsession can be so destructive, both personally and to others. Why did Jesus condemn the Pharisees? Because they were so obsessed with their own rules, regulations, and traditions. He told them, “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions. …You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions. …You nullify the word of God by your traditions that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.” Mk. 7: 8-9, 13
Jesus is saying that we lose our passion for God when we become obsessed with our own ministry or traditions. That may not be a case here, but it is in many churches. Obsession sneaks up on us, takes over us, and causes us to lose sight of the bigger picture!
PASSION IS A STRENGTH; OBSESSION IS A STRONGHOLD!
Passion drives your life down the road to achievement; obsession takes over your life and drives you off the edge! Obsession puts a stranglehold on your life; and that “stronghold” has to be destroyed! So, how do you overcome an obsession/stronghold…
2 Cor. 10:3-5 (NIV) “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not of this world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
More on this next week in Pt. 3 of DRIVE- “Overcoming Obsession!”