Dear Church of Apathy,
Before we begin, I would like to further define our problem so that we all know what we are talking about. Here is the definition that I pulled from Wikipedia…
“Apathy (also called perfunctoriness) is a lack of feeling, emotion, interest, or concern. Apathy is a state of indifference, or the suppression of emotions such as concern, excitement, motivation, and/or passion. An apathetic individual has an absence of interest in or concern about emotional, social, spiritual, philosophical and/or physical life and the world.
The apathetic may lack a sense of purpose or meaning in their life. An apathetic person may also exhibit insensibility or sluggishness. In positive psychology, apathy is described as a result of the individual feeling they do not possess the level of skill required to confront a challenge (i.e. “Flow”). It may also be a result of perceiving no challenge at all (e.g. the challenge is irrelevant to them, or conversely, they have learned helplessness). Apathy may be a sign of more specific mental problems such as schizophrenia or dementia. However, apathy is something that all people face in some capacity. It is a natural response to disappointment, dejection, and stress. As a response, apathy is a way to forget about these negative feelings. This type of common apathy is usually only felt in the short-term and when it becomes a long-term or even lifelong state is when deeper social and psychological issues are most likely present.”
I get it. I really do. Here we are in a world that is not listening. A world that loves darkness rather than light. A world that is quickly turning to everything else but Christ for answers to their problems. A world needing so much more than we can give.
I get it. I’ve felt it. That desire to hide…to protect myself…to forget about everyone else and just survive. After all, they don’t want Jesus or the truth. They are stopping up their ears. They are seeking after error because the truth means something harder. Let them have what they want. Why bring suffering upon myself from the rejection…from the mockery…from the abuse? Just stop caring.
I get it. I’ve thought it. I think the problems are too big too. I think they are only getting bigger. I don’t think that we are headed toward light, but darkness instead. Why not sit back and relax and enjoy the blessings of the Lord? Why not have fun, entertain myself, immerse myself in the beauty of my family and my God’s Creation? Why not just buy my time until He comes? After all, continuing to care means that thoughts of others suffering are continually in the back of my mind. It means giving up “carefree” in favor of “go and free”. It means opening myself up to people and their problems who are never in a million years in the vicinity of my responsibility.
I get it. Because I have put on the same stinking “shield myself from the world” apathy as I have attended a prayer meeting thinking about what I couldn’t wait to do later. As I have driven to serve the less fortunate thinking about the nice, comfortable, warm bed that I got to jump into after I left. As I have rushed passed the Scripture passages in books to get to the “good part”. As I have counted the minutes until I could go back to what I wanted to do.
The passionate part of the Church may think that the apathetic part of the Church is just less spiritual, but I get it. Most of us aren’t less spiritual at all. Most of us aren’t necessarily “lovers of the world”. Most of us aren’t resisters of the faith.
Most of us are just overwhelmed. We don’t even know where to start.
Most of us were just seeing no change or progress even though we were putting everything we had into it. We don’t know what we were doing wrong, but it had to be something.
Most of us not only weren’t getting through, but we were being HATED. Not only were they not listening, but they were accusing us of hating. Not only did we not see lives change for the better, but we seemed to be making them worse…or at least that’s what they told us.
Most of us were just told to “Sit down and shut up” so much, we found ourselves doing it in hopes that maybe that was the solution.
Our apathy does not come from a desire to reject God. It comes from a desire to protect ourselves.
And we have this choice. God gave it to us in the beginning. Self protection is a choice. But it is a choice that finds us hiding in the bushes when we should be walking with the Savior.
Let me just be really frank. This world is not getting better. As hard as people are working to saving it, to make it better, to see no more orphans, to feed everyone, to end sexual abuse, to reconcile races to each other… it’s not getting better.
And despite what everyone says about how we are going to make the world a better place…we aren’t. The Bible says that evil will wax worse and worse. The spirit of lawlessness will be unleashed. The mercy and restraint of the Lord will eventually be lifted. And ultimately one day, God Himself with create a new heaven and a new earth.
We don’t stand a chance at perfecting this old beat up planet. There will be no utopia. There won’t be world peace. You can take it to the bank, no amount of green campaign is going to save us from what is to come.
Am I making the case for apathy? Why not eat, drink, and be merry until there is no more time?
Because we don’t know that our lives will not be required of us this very night.
Apathy might work for a little while on this earth, but it won’t cut it in the desperate times and it sure won’t work when we stand before the throne and give an account to the Boss.
13 “Therefore stay alert, because you do not know the day or the hour. 14 For it is like a man going on a journey, who summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The one who had received five talents went off right away and put his money to work and gained five more. 17 In the same way, the one who had two gained two more. 18 But the one who had received one talent went out and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money in it. 19 After a long time, the master of those slaves came and settled his accounts with them. 20 The one who had received the five talents came and brought five more, saying, ‘Sir, you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ 21 His master answered, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful in a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 The one with the two talents also came and said, ‘Sir, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more.’ 23 His master answered, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 Then the one who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Sir, I knew that you were a hard man, harvesting where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered, ‘Evil and lazy slave! So you knew that I harvest where I didn’t sow and gather where I didn’t scatter? 27 Then you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received my money back with interest! 28 Therefore take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten. 29 For the one who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough. But the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30 And throw that worthless slave into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’” (Matthew 25:13-30).
Why not lean into apathy when chances are I won’t make a difference any way?
- We will answer to the Master one day (maybe even today) for the part He gave us to play in the Body of Christ. Apathy is not faith and whatever is not of faith is sin. Living a life of apathy is a sin…it’s the sin of disobedience. He told us to GO. He told us to BE LIGHT. He told us to sit up on the hill so we couldn’t be hidden. Not caring is not godly and one day we will answer for it.
- We DO make a difference. Whether we get to see the results immediately or whether we see them in heaven, everything that we do or don’t do makes a difference in this world. Andy Andrews wrote the most perspective changing coffee table book I have ever read called “The Butterfly Effect”. I highly suggest it.
- If everyone chose apathy, there would be no light. We can’t all protect ourselves. Some of us have to take risks so that others have such a luxury. Chances are you are able to come sit in a pew every Sunday because there are 100 others who have taken the risk of letting down their guard and serving.
- When we become passionate for His Church…for the lost… for this world, we aren’t just serving them, we are serving HIM. And what other way do we have to say “thank you” for the sacrifice He has made for us that was anything but apathetic.
- We are His Church. We are the hope on earth. Like it or not, when we claim the Name of Christ, we take on this responsibility.
I get it. This world is brutal. When we live righteously oftentimes life is not “good”. Oftentimes we are soldiers in a war. We are busy fighting, not living the “good life”.
And as with any war, we suffer the demoralization of defeat, but we also get to live the thrill of victory. There will be days of getting back up because we have missed something in our zeal for the Lord and fallen on our faces…and there will be days of soaring on the heights of eagles wings as we watch the beauty of what a Redemptive Savior can do. Apathy ain’t got nothing on the good fight of faith.
And we are not alone. We are given the very Spirit that was in Christ Jesus. We are given the promise that God will never leave us or forsake us. And We are given each other. The Body of Christ, when fully functional and united…when passionate and alive…when compassionate and giving is the hope that Christ left on earth.
I get it. I really do. But when I am tempted to reach for apathy, I reach for this instead…
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
Due season might be closer than we think.