Overcoming Spiritual Apathy
Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord. And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” “The word of the Lord you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?”
—2 Kings 20:16–19 NIV
Webster defines indifference as: Want or lack of interest or concern. Apathy. Without significance. Spiritual indifference or spiritual apathy is the detrimental spiritual quality of knowing what to do, or what is necessary, but being unwilling to take the necessary steps in that direction. There are several incidences of this kind of indifference in scripture, but none is quite as blatant as these few verses in 2 Kings 20. Hezekiah has entertained the political leaders of Babylon, and in the process has openly, and with pride of heart, shown them all that he possesses and what he has accomplished. After they have gone, he is confronted by the prophet Isaiah with a scalding rebuke by the Lord for his pride and arrogance.
It is his reply to this rebuke and prophetic warning that shows his indifference and apathy to it all. 2 Kings 20:19: “The word of the LORD you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?”
Are you kidding me? What gall. What audacity. These people are going to come back, take the kingdom of Israel into captivity, your own sons will be made eunuchs, and all you have to say is, “It won’t happen during my lifetime—I’ll enjoy peace and security as long as I live.” The patterns of spiritual indifference and apathy that creep into our life may not seem as bad as this example of Hezekiah, but they can become just as costly, if left unchecked.
Spiritual apathy, coldness, or indifference can affect even the most sincere Christian at one time or another. Human emotions being as fickle as they are, feelings of apathy or disinterest can sometimes replace the fervor we once felt for the things of God. Overcoming such apathy is necessary for continuing our walk with God. Failure to deal with the indifference and apathy will ultimately rob us of the destiny God has planned for our life. You and I will find out very quickly that we will get out of our walk and relationship with God what we are willing to invest into it. “Give and it shall be given back to you” is a universal principle of God’s kingdom. So, what must we do to address this critical problem in our spiritual life?
Revelation 2:5: Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.
This was the command of Christ to the Ephesians Church, and it is still the answer for you and me when we find indifference and apathy controlling our life…
Passion is born in our hearts as we … begin to do what is necessary to move back to where we need to be in Christ. Remember what you once had in Christ. Repent of where you have allowed that to go in your life, and renew what God has destined for you.
—Peninsula Florida District, AOG (http://www.penflorida.org)
Responding to the “whatever” worldview
Apathy. That often smug assurance that “it” just doesn’t matter. That vague sense of superiority that comes from a “whatever” worldview. Nothing really matters. No one can ever know for sure. So why bother?
Every believer who has tried to make the case for Christianity has encountered this response. It’s not that the skeptic is considering our truth claims and rejecting them, or countering them with evidence that they are false, or that his worldview is true. Instead, most skeptics I’ve dealt with have developed a comfort level regarding the “unknowability” of ultimate things. They often argue that the fact that people disagree about such things—that they have differing views—is itself evidence that no one can ever know whether God is, what He is about, or most importantly, what He may want of us. And so, they often don’t bother to try to investigate these things for themselves.
But if the Christian worldview is correct, such apathy may itself be hazardous to one’s spiritual health. Not long ago, I tried to make this case in a conversation with a skeptic. It went something like this:
“Let’s say this was 50 years ago, and when I saw you, you were chain-smoking cigarettes with your kids always nearby. I know where medical science is headed, so I tell you that you are hurting yourself, and your kids. You respond that no one can really know such things; after all, you can point to doctors who advertise cigarettes and smoke them themselves, and you feel fine when you smoke.”…
My friend’s response was not unexpected. It went like this: “Have you ever noticed how so many things are bad/wrong only at certain points in a cycle? Eat eggs, don’t eat eggs; give your kids soy, soy is bad; babies should sleep on their backs, no their stomachs, no their sides, no their backs, etc., etc. … What I am saying is that I do what feels right to me, and that is the best I can do. … I think the ‘answer’ to many of these things is unknowable.”
Fair enough. Some things are unknowable, and for some things, it doesn’t really matter. But that of course is the point of being thoughtful: deciding which is which. So, I conceded that for some things, the right answer might be “it doesn’t matter.” … But for other things—like smoking—it will never “come back around.” Science will never say that smoking is good…
“So,” I concluded, “the trick is, which is this? Are questions of eternal life like laying a child on her side, or like smoking with my kids in the room? I hope you see the answer matters. If you were smoking 10 hours a day with your kids present, you would be harming them. Getting the right answer on that would matter. Getting the right answer on your relationship with God also matters, both to you and to the people you influence.”
—Al Serrato (http://pleaseconvinceme.com)
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