Friday, September 16, 2011

Reasons to Be Passive - Part 3

Passivity is rarely the result of a conscious decision. You don’t wake up one morning and say to yourself, "I’m going to begin to view myself as powerless. I’m going to look on God as small. So from now on, I’ll just close my door and take care of me and mine.” It never happens quite that way. But it does happen, all the time. Perhaps the broken-down house metaphor can help us again in illustrating the progressive stages of passivity.

One day you’re walking through your living room and notice a slight crack in the wall. It’s barely visible, so you think; it’s too small to worry about today. Now this is a perfectly plausible statement. The crack is minor and not worth re-ordering your day over. But something else also needs to be said; problems are always easiest to address when they are small. So often we make the mistake of not dealing with problems when we first notice them. After all, they crop up in the middle of the mundane moments of our lives—and we forget that those mundane moments are pretty much all we have!

You and I live in these little, mundane moments. The character of a life is not set in three or four moments of huge significance. No, the character of a life is set in 10,000 little moments, one after another. The character formed in those innumerable little moments is what positions us to respond in the big moments of life. (See the Parable of the Ten Minas, Luke 19:11–27.)

But neither the crack in your wall nor the passivity in your heart remains unchanged. So several months later your wife notices that the crack has become sizably larger. It’s now very noticeable, so she asks if you’d do something about it. You say, “I’ll get to it when I have time.” When you tell her that, you’re not lying. You really do intend to fix it when you have a few free moments. The problem is that those moments never come. There’s a principle here; the problems of life are not usually fixed in free and unscheduled moments. Problems generally get fixed because someone cares enough to make the time to address and solve them.

Because you haven’t found that mysterious free moment in your schedule, the crack in the wall is now three inches wide at the top and runs from ceiling to floor. It has morphed from a minor to a major problem. It simply can’t be ignored any longer. At this point, however, it will take real skill to fix. So you say to yourself, this is way too big for me to deal with. Overwhelmed with what you’re facing, you realize you’re incapable of solving it.

Isn’t this exactly where passivity always leads us? “Too little” and “no time” always lead to “too big.”

The Call

The point of the last three blog posts is simple but absolutely vital: you cannot think biblically and adopt a passive lifestyle. To begin with, the world you live in is terribly broken (see Romans 8:18–22). Second, God’s agenda is the complete renewal of everything (see Revelation 21:1–5). Third, God is sovereign and has placed you exactly where he intends you to be (see Acts 17: 24–28). Fourth, you’ve been lit by God’s grace and called to radiate his character in the darkness that surrounds where he’s placed you (see Matthew 5:14–16, quoted previously).

The question is, will you live biblically, exercising the character and influence you’ve been given? Or in your passivity will you try to take yourself off the hook with self-serving rationalizations, flawed logic, and unbiblical thinking? Remember, the One who has positioned and called you is with you again and again reminding you of that fact; he has taken the name Emmanuel.

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