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by Dave Roberts

Passivity is a dangerous thing because it means that one who is a passive individual will be acted upon rather than to act. At best they might react in response, but being active enough to even attempt to change their surroundings or habits is far less than someone who is called “an activist.” Most activists are almost too active, even for a workaholic like me but that’s often because they are zealots about their cause. But passivity, especially in the life of a Christian, is worse because it is the very person whom Jesus says He abhors. The word that He uses for it in Revelation 3:16 is “lukewarm.” In that passage, He says that He would rather we be hot or cold, (read, for Him or against Him because at least there’s some sign of life!), but not lukewarm because, if we are, He will spew us out of His mouth.

Well, I think I finally discovered a root cause of the seeming indifference in our North American churches! It’s no secret that I’ve long been disappointed with the state of what is supposed to be the Church, not just in this country but in the western world in general. I see mega-churches and smaller ones as well often doing headcounts as though a bigger number gives them greater validity and listing a variety of programs that are available to folks. But why, when there are enough people filling the pews of presumably evangelical churches in southern California alone that, if they banded together, couldn’t overturn the something as unBiblical as, say, abortion? Where have the Christians been during elections over the past forty years since the spiritual revolution took place with the Catholic Renewal, the Jesus People Movement, the Charismatic Movement or even the Word/Faith Movement? While I may not agree with some aspects of each of the above, millions of people were impacted by those revivals alone since the late 1960s and yet unrighteousness prevailed both politically and spiritually, inside and outside the Church.

Or has it become something where by getting people to think that they’re saved because they said a prayer once or got baptized as infants or otherwise we can count them among God’s people? I don’t think so. In what Pastor Steve Meltzer refers to as a consumer-oriented gospel, we have allowed the consumerism of the world to influence the thinking of the Church to where people are attending any number of churches of any denomination or tradition and yet passively sit week-after-week and leave unchanged. The only action they take is to get themselves there and back home again but the once they’ve checked in, their minds, will and emotions have checked out and are at the whim and even mercy of whoever is on the platform and whatever is on the big screen. Think about it: The majority of professing Christians today are passive, not active, because if they were, the fabric of our communities and nation would be different. These, whom Jesus says are supposed to be the salt of the earth, are ones who probably never had a salty savor to begin with or lost it on the way. And, like the lukewarm, above, Jesus says they are cast out.

It isn’t just a consumeristic view of life that can cause this passivity. It can be an indifference in general to anything of eternal value because those values were never emphasized. For example, the value of the human soul. Without Jesus, a person will go to Hell! God’s Word is clear on this. You can take the Sacraments, be involved in programs at your church, attend Bible studies and cell groups or sit in the same pew faithfully for decades and yet, because of your passivity, be led and influenced toward whatever makes you feel good about yourself because a saccharine gospel is not Jesus’ Gospel at all.

Our deliverance from a passive faith to one that is active is not measured by our activity. It is measured by a personal, active relationship and intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ. Few understand what I mean when I say that because no one has ever told them that a relationship with God is what gives us the drive to serve and to be active. We have confused our activity with spirituality when the truly mature in Christ, because of their intimacy with Him, are motivated through that unction of knowing Him first. It is all predicated on that. For example, I John 4:19 says, “we love because He FIRST loved us!”

There is a likely shift coming that is going to have a winnowing effect on those who really want Jesus as opposed to those want to be passively led in a faith that is not the Faith. In John 6:66, it records that the bread-and-circus entitlement crowd didn’t want to follow Jesus any longer once He laid out the terms and conditions for following Him. Most left. They were the passive ones who would be glad to get the free bread and fish that were being passed out but still abandoned the Lord when He told them the cost, not of the food, but of continuing to follow Him. Is it going to have to come to that in the United States for us to see the great falling away the Bible talks about for the End Times, a time when the love of many will grow cold? Because, if God is Love as the Bible says, then those who know and live in a state of that Love in Him will not see their genuine Love grow cold. That Love will not allow you to be passive. It energizes you to be active without being an activist zealot. Those burn out anyway after a while as they cannot keep the fanaticism going much past 30. No, the genuinely active Christian is the one who is first and foremost connected to the Lord Jesus Christ as His Source. What flows from that will never be passive.

© Copyright 2011 by Dave Roberts

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