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Apathy

by "Graduate C"
 

Apathy is a lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern for any particular thing. One example where we witness a lot of apathy is in the public education system. Students in many schools around the world suffer from a lack of interest in the things they're learning, a lack of enthusiasm for learning more, and a lack of concern for whether they are getting a proper education.

Another example of apathy is in the workplace. If the only thing that drags your feet into the office each day is the paycheck at the end of the week, then you too suffer from apathy. You don't care how well the company does; you don't care how well you perform your job; and if you lose your job or the company goes under, you will just wander into another office somewhere  to apply for a similar job you couldn't really care less about.

Someone who is NOT suffering from apathy will behave in ways that are the opposite to these examples. Such a student will strive to learn beyond the curriculum their school is offering them. They may become actively involved in student government, and circulate petitions to improve the school and its resources. Such an office worker will arrive early at work each day, organizing themselves constantly, and looking for ways to improve their productivity. They'll be the one in the business meeting with well thought-out ideas to present to the board, and they'll take just as much responsibility for the company's successes and failures as the bosses do.

All of us can suffer from apathy to a certain extent, and more often than not, we're not even really aware of it. 

The Bible has a different word for apathy. It calls it 'lukewarmness' (Revelation 3:16). It describes apathy as being "neither hot nor cold". In spiritual things it comes across as not caring enough to be really on fire for God and getting out there to preach the Gospel (i.e. hot), neither caring enough to become full time atheists with an agenda to turn others away from Christianity (i.e. cold).  

Lukewarmness is the middle of these two extremes: A place where we say we believe in Jesus and maybe do a few things to show it (such as attending church on Sunday, or saying 'God bless you!" to the grocer), and yet we're not interested in how much we're growing spiritually; nor do we care if we're helping others to become better Christians.


The Bible tells us in that same verse from the Revelation that, because we are lukewarm, God will reject us (or spew us from His mouth as it literally says).

Sadly, lukewarmness describes the majority of Christians today. It has become the norm, to the point where those who choose to get a bit radical and start taking some of the things that Jesus said seriously, are completely shunned from church gatherings for being abnormal. Maybe some of the radicals go a bit farther than what Jesus himself intended, but one could hardly accuse them of being lukewarm. At the very least, they should be causing us to question how serious WE are about OUR faith, rather than us questioning whether THEY are the ones who have lost the plot.

Tragically, it is the nature of lukewarmness or apathy to have little interest in examining ourselves, to see if that is a trait which needs to be changed. Even if we were to be completely exposed as being apathetic or lukewarm, we wouldn't do anything to change, because we just don't care.


Apathy, or lukewarmness, is a bit like an airborne disease, where (because of our own indifference) we begin to make others around us feel more comfortable with being indifferent too.  Eventually we end up with a church full of people who are dedicated to no longer growing spiritually. The collective indifference becomes a form of security against anything which would seek to expose the negative aspects of the church and its members.  If you're not willing to change, and I'm not willing to change, we can all live together in blissful lukewarmness.

Jesus asks a rhetorical question: "When the Son of Man returns, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8) The sad simple answer is no. Relatively, the number of people left on earth who believe (or have faith) in what they're doing, or even care about whether or not they're doing the right thing, will be almost nothing compared to the number of people who just don't care, and the number of people who are actually against God. (One might even say that those who are against God are not as bad as the lukewarm folks, because they at least believe in something.)

Paul tells us to work out our salvation with "fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12). The lukewarm Christians don't like that verse, because it implies that they have to do something or at least THINK about their spiritual progress as a Christian on a regular basis. I believe Paul made that statement in order to combat apathy in the churches that he was ministering to. If we care about our salvation and if we follow his advice, we'll take an interest in our spiritual walk each day. We'll be enthusiastic about our Christian growth, because we'll be wanting to try our hardest to be the best Christian we can be, and we'll be very concerned about whether or not we're doing a good job of it.

I for one do not want to be spat out of God's mouth for not caring about my Christian walk, and I'm sure nobody else would want to experience that either. So let's be on fire for God instead! Let's examine ourselves daily, and look constantly for new ways to grow. We can even take it to the extreme if we want, and start stepping outside the boundaries of your church in order to share our faith and encourage others. Perhaps we'll get a little too hot to handle for some people, but at least we won't be lukewarm.

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