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Forget Apathy

Apathy is a lack of interest or concern, especially regarding matters of general importance or appeal; indifference.  (Definition provided by The Free Dictionary.)

The Worst Kind of Apathy

If you find yourself in a repeating pattern of apathetic spirituality, it may look like this:

  • You have a house littered with Bibles and you don’t make the time to read Scripture at least once a day
  • You go through an entire day (or more) without thinking once about God’s vision or purpose for your life
  • You use prayer strictly as a vehicle to tell God what you want out of Him

I have found at my worst moments that I viewed God as an entity who served me and my needs rather than me being the one to serve God.  If I didn’t  pick up the Bible, it was because I was too tired, too busy, and I still prayed asking for things I needed without thinking of what God needed of me.  I was apathetic toward God.

Do you fall into that trap?  Do you profess to be a Christian without bearing fruit of a relationship with God?  If you find yourself going through the motions of acting like a Christian without really dedicating your life to God, then please rethink the health of your spiritual life.

Therefore the Lord said:
“Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths
And honor Me with their lips,
But have removed their hearts far from Me,
And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,
14 Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work
Among this people,
A marvelous work and a wonder;
For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,
And the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden.” Isaiah 29:13-14  (referenced again in Matthew 15:8)

God does not like it when you draw near with your mouth, honor Him with your lips, but keep your heart far from Him.  This is a false relationship that God does not tolerate:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day,‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:21-23
The great news is that you can change with the help of God.  I did.  I’m still changing for the better.  If you want to sincerely seek after the Lord, just tell Him, and then pursue Him and love Him with everything you have.
“He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:27
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

Christians are World-Changers

So what’s next?  If you have a strong relationship with God, then let’s move on to the next step: defeating world apathy.

Do you think Christ was apathetic toward political and social injustices?  He traveled around healing people of their illnesses, speaking against corrupt leaders who abused their subjects, and teaching people that the lawful thing to do was not always the righteous thing to do (see Matthew 5).  John the Baptist spoke against the materialism and greed that is seen in so many of us today in Luke 3.  “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” Luke 3:11

You can’t focus on everything.  That doesn’t mean you can’t stay well informed about important political or social topics.  Never should you say “I just don’t care” or “This doesn’t pertain to me and my life”; anything that has to do with the human experience should speak to you because you are part of the body of Christ.  Realize that you can’t be the Hero of abolishing sexual slavery AND abortion AND racism AND oil spills AND exclusive healthcare.  God didn’t put you on earth to fulfill the needs of every human; that’s Jesus’ job, and Jesus does it way better than you or I ever could.

What you and I are called to do is to live up to Christ’s standards by passionately seeking God and allowing the Holy Spirit to work through us.  Ask God to see the world through His eyes, and the pain and suffering of the world will be revealed to your heart.  God will make our purpose known to us the more we seek after Him.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Romans 8:28-30

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:-10-11

If your mission in life is clear, pursue it with a godly passion, and support the other worthy causes around you with money, encouragement, or time.

The Crux of Apathy

When you get down to it, apathy is really just a disguised form of selfishness.  Perhaps you find yourself so overwhelmed by the injustice of humanity that you have shielded yourself from the pain by becoming apathetic.  Maybe you’re so keen on finding that perfect job or graduating from college or providing for your spouse and children that you have completely put the needs of the world out of your head.  It is easy to be self-involved, and it is easy to ignore passionate proclamations on Facebook statuses (some should be ignored anyway…).  It is not easy, however, to take up your cross and follow in the footsteps of Christ.

Forget what the world says about putting your needs first.  Put God first:

He [Jesus] answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:27

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” Mark 8:34-27

Love God, love people.  Deny yourself the life you think you ought to have and God will open up to you a life more beautiful and fulfilling than you could ever imagine.

A Prayer for the Victims of the Sandy Hook massacre

Let us take a moment to grieve and pray over the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary.  Pray your own prayer, or feel free to pray mine.

Father, I lift up the families of the murdered children in prayer.  I cannot imagine the pain of those parents who lost their flesh and blood, especially so close to Christmas.  Lord, in a few days we were meant to celebrate the birth of your Son, of our Savior.  This is supposed to be a happy season full of good memories and joy.  Lord, I grieve now for those families who will only know pain this Christmas and every Christmas that follows.  I ask that you provide them with family and community members who will help them during this difficult time.  Be with the siblings and grandparents of the lost.  Shower them with grace and comfort.

For those children who survived, I ask that you allow them to heal from physical injury and mental torment.  Do not allow trauma to damage the innocent.  Give strength to the parents who did not lose their children so they can help the parents who did.  Remind all families how precious their time is together.

Lord, bless the school teachers and administrators of that school.  It will never be the same again, and darkness will haunt it.  Send your angels to beat back the darkness and pain and shroud this school in light and hope.   Be with the families of the lost adults.  Allow the names of those teachers to live on with honor.  Heal the remaining teachers and give them strength to face what will come.  Provide the school with good, strong leaders to replace the heroes who were killed when they tried to protect the children.

Lord, please be with the family of Adam Lanza.  They are grieving too, and they will likely face trials and hardships they never expected.  Do not let the community hate them or blame them for Adam’s actions.  Do not let them blame themselves and succumb to misery.  If we find in time that Adam’s actions were spurred by past abuse or encouraged by a member of his family, then please provide the police with these answers and let justice come swiftly.  But until then, let us not cast blame on anyone but Adam.

We ask that you give wisdom to our leaders during this time.  Allow them to make decisions that are motivated by purity, and not by political ambition.  Encourage them to do what is right, what it just, and what is noble.  Allow the rest of us to respect our leaders and accept their judgment, or if we disagree, to voice it in a manner that would make You proud.  We do not need more hatred in our country, Lord.   

Father, you tell us to pray for our enemies.  I grieve for Adam – for what he turned into, and for the torment he will undoubtedly receive at the hands of Satan.  Lord, keep this evil that plagued Adam away from us, away from our loved ones.  Allow us to see the darkness that haunts others and provide us with ways to help them.  Give us strength to speak out against evil and discernment to know when we need to get help for ourselves or others.

Lord, remind us to fight for goodness, to battle evil, and to succumb to your light.  There is no other way to rid our world of evil.  Let this tragedy bring our communities, our families, and ourselves closer to You, closer to your redeeming grace.

In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

God is glorified

“Undoubtedly and ultimately we are most blessed when God is most glorified.” Beth Moore in Believing God

What an excellent reminder that even when things don’t go “our way”, it means that there’s a greater purpose behind it all.  We can take heart in knowing that God is faithful, loving, and just, and His glory is well deserved.