Let me tell you what has brought radical awakening to many a passive rebel. Begin treating God’s church as if it really were an extension of God’s authority….you cannot say that a church’s expectations are biblical and reasonable, join it, and then refuse to meet those expectations. That’s just passive rebellion, and it quenches the Holy Spirit’s work in your life.
Thanks for pursuing greater growth in the Lord. I am glad you have seen changes in Jake—I have too. I’m even more delighted that you’re asking for a similar pastoral perspective on your life. You asked if Jake’s problem is essentially yours as well. In a word, no, though as sinners in Adam, we often share sinful traits with each other.
Your spiritual block is not “the over-the-hill-commitment.” What I have observed in you is something more easily described, and yet less easily felt. Simply put, your approach to the Christian life is filled with passive rebellion to God’s authority. A low-grade, quiet, stubborn resistance to God retards your growth and ensures that your Christian life has a stop-start feel to it.
Passive rebellion is difficult to recognise in oneself. I’m sure you’re scratching your head right now, wondering how you’re a rebel, since you attend church regularly, serve in ministry, and would consider yourself far more spiritually active than the lukewarm and worldly Christianity that usually claims to be “born again”. But passive rebellion is a quiet and stubborn force which is present in some of the “nicer” Christians you’ll meet.
You can better understand passive rebellion by contrasting it with assertive rebellion. An assertive rebel openly defies God’s principles and commands in Scripture. He knows he is flouting God’s laws, so he instead gives reasons why his rebellion is justified. The passive rebel, however, disobeys by omission. I was too tired to obey. I forgot to obey. It was too hard to obey. It’s the sluggard of Proverbs (Proverbs 22:13; 26:13).
Let me make it really practical. You have joined our church, by your own free will. You joined knowing what our church is, how it runs, and when it meets. You made a covenant that you would regularly participate in worship, as well as supporting the church’s doctrine, discipline, and leadership. Why then do you attend roughly half of the services every week? I know nothing exists in your life that would make attendance at all three services insurmountable. You could be there, but choose to not attend.
Instead, you’ve made the calculation that a passive rebel makes: I don’t want to obey in the way the church expects. I will obey my own way. After all, the church is not God. But this is passive rebellion.
You are correct that the church is not God. You are right that a church’s authority extends only as far as it practises the Word of God. But what you fail to see is that what a church corporately agrees to do becomes voluntarily binding on those who submit to it. And those who refuse what the church expects (be a member, serve others, get involved in ministry, attend every corporate worship service), are refusing to obey God. It just doesn’t feel like it to you, because you think God’s authority and the church’s are completely separate. But this fails to understand how authority works.