Breaking the Spirit of Passivity

God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it, and to have dominion (see Genesis 1:26-28). These are not passive words; they are active words, words filled with energy, vitality and even force. People who are effective for God’s kingdom are not passive in nature. They are active in their pursuit of Christ and Christlikeness. They are intentional in following God’s plan for their lives, having great marriages, raising their children, and in seeking to demonstrate God’s love for others.

Passivity is a problem that began in the Garden of Eden, and, in my view, is sometimes a problem in the church. God specifically told Adam and Eve to rule over the fish and the birds and over everything that moves on the ground (Genesis 1:28). Shortly thereafter, Satan came to them masquerading as a creepy, crawling, crafty serpent. The first thing Adam and Eve should have thought is – God told us to take dominion over this creature.

As soon as that serpent opened its mouth with deceit, they should have spoken to the serpent with authority and told it to be quiet! Perhaps even better, they should have picked up a rock and smashed it in the head. God gave the earth to Adam and Eve and not to Satan and Satan did not belong. Instead, they were struck by the blow of sin and Jesus had to come to crush the head of Satan by the cross.

Interestingly, the Bible says that when Eve was deceived and ate of the fruit she gave some to Adam, “who was with her” (Genesis 3:6, NIV). The dude sat by and watched his wife get attacked by Satan and did nothing about it. Instead, he became a partaker in the sin. God gave them a beautiful garden to live in which certainly provided for many opportunities for relaxation and contentment. But their contentment was not to warp into lethargic living. Their inaction was actually disobedience to God’s direct command. 

There are sins of commission and omission. There are things God commands us to do and things He commands us not to do. The active commands are far more thrilling than the inactive – be fruitful, fill, multiply, subdue, take dominion. That’s sounds like a lot more fun than “don’t eat from this tree.” If they had set their minds on doing the things God had called them to do, they would not have been lured into the enemy’s trap because they would have been busy about their Father’s work.

In contrast, when Jesus walked the earth he actively lived out God’s commands by his fruitful life of love, filling others with God’s healing power, multiplying through making disciples, subduing the forces of darkness as He drove out demons, and taking dominion by advancing God’s kingdom wherever he went. Jesus was not passive. He was active about His Father’s work.

People who are effective for God’s kingdom are not passive in nature.

It is sometimes our inaction that gets us into trouble more than our actions. As the old saying goes, “an idle mind is the devil’s playground.” What got King David into trouble is when he took time away from the battle field and in his bored solitude was lured into the temptation to commit adultery. His place was on the battle field. I believe there was actually a demonic spirit sent to lure David into a slumbering condition. The king became prey because of a passive moment in his normally otherwise fierce life (see 2 Samuel 11).

God has called each of us to be on the battle field. Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities of darkness (Ephesians 6:12). Of course, there are times to rest and relax, to vacation, but we cannot let our guard down when it is time to fight. If we will not actively resist the enemy, we will be devoured by him. There’s no middle ground.

Throughout the Bible, God calls His people to advance. Jesus said, “the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12, NKJV). We are commanded to go into all the world and preach the gospel. We have been given authority over all the power of the enemy. We trample snakes and scorpions and every wicked thing (see Luke 10:19). We should be an advancing church not an idle church. Yes, we will face resistance, but that is when we need to grow stronger and “Rule in the midst of your enemies!” (Psalm 110:2, NIV).

Contentment is not passivity. Passivity is not contentment.

The time leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion is called His passion week. We don’t call it Jesus’ inaction week. Even in laying down his life in submission to his Father’s will, Jesus was not passive. He was passionate. What are you passionate about? We need to break off the spirit of passivity and begin to advance boldly and passionately for God’s kingdom. 

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