Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Chapter 5.5 A Pathetic Apathy

This is another chapter where I have asked for help from a brother in Christ to write. This is a subject that is also close to my heart but thought it may be better touched upon by my brother Dwayne Dunning. So with further ado here we go...

As I sit here watching “The Walking Dead”, yes I watch this show; I can’t help but think upon the subject that I have been asked to write about.  That subject is spiritual apathy. What does this show have to do with apathy, you may ask. Well, if you are one of the 10 or so in America that has no idea what this show is, let me explain. In “The Walking Dead”, the dead have risen and are walking around as “walkers”. They seem alive, they move, they roam, they get together in groups, but they are dead. There has been an incident that has yet to be explained that has caused this phenomenon to occur. To put another twist on the story, (spoiler alert), everyone that is truly living is infected with this disease already. So, when they die, they will become just like the rest of the walkers on the planet. They will roam around with no purpose, no care, completely devoid of any actual life, dead yet walking around.
When I look at the church today, this is what I see. I can’t believe that I am actually saying this, but it is true. The majority of churches and so called “Christians”, which let me remind everyone means Christ follower, are like dead walking. We have no life or desire to truly see God move or the world to be changed. Sure, we say do. We send up prayers asking for a move of God and for change to take place. We sing songs and mutter words that say we have a desire for it. But what do our lives say? Our lives are saying that there is very little life in us, at least spiritually speaking. We are walkers. We may not be carrying an actual disease like those represented in the show, but there is a spiritual disease that we have allowed to creep in and begin to kill the church. This disease is apathy.
So what is apathy? Well, the definition is simple. It is the mindset of, I don’t care! It is having a lack of concern for others, ministry, spiritual growth, or what God wants of us. In a nutshell, it’s impassiveness about God. An attitude of, “God I really don’t care about you. I want all that you can give me and have for me. I want your blessings and definitely your salvation from hell, but don not ask me for anything. I have a life to live. I am too busy.” What are we thinking?
Spiritual apathy is perhaps one of the most ignored “diseases” in the Christian life. It’s a condition of the heart. It rarely, if ever, manifests itself in open rebellion. Instead it’s a secret thing, sometimes not even evident to those around us (although often evident to others before we even admit its presence in our lives). Spiritual apathy doesn't care; it’s an I-can-take-it-or-leave-it attitude toward spiritual things: Bible reading and study, prayer, worship, church, witnessing, our world-view, our mental and emotional filters, relationships, service etc.
The thing about spiritual apathy is that it rarely strikes like a bolt of lightning. Instead it sneaks up on you; it’s a process that you don’t see coming. Few Christians become apathetic overnight – but they do over years. We all know people who at one time were faithful but who over time stopped attending church, reading their bibles, praying, witnessing – in short, stopped living the Christian life in any meaningful way. It is a slow spreading disease that begins to infiltrate every fiber of our spiritual being.

“So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:16

Christians are becoming lukewarm, disinterested, and non-committal. I mean think about it, today there are many so called believers who do not participate in regular church attendance and bible studies. Fewer of us are serving and many of our talents go unused. Something is wrong with the church and it’s getting worse as each year passes.
The other day I was worshiping the Lord with a group of believers. I had my eyes closed and was meditating on the words of Jesus as I sang. All of a sudden the Lord brought to my mind a concert. I know this sounds cliché-ish. But think about it. The people were shouting, raising their hands, getting excited about the person singing and were excited about the concert itself. Then my mind seemed to wander to a football game. The people were yelling and engaged with what was going on. They were mesmerized and watched in utter anticipation at the next move of the ball players.

Then I opened my eyes and glanced around the room at the worshippers of Jesus. No one had their hands raised, no one was excited, people were fidgeting and talking over the music; mouths were singing but not with utter joy and anticipation as seen at the concert. Rather it was superficial and done merely out of obligation. There was a lack of real worship coming from the believers and little reverence was being shown. My heart broke! How can we cheer for people on a stage and players on a field which have done nothing but entertain us? Yet not cry out in complete worship to the Creator of the universe, the sustainer of our soul, the one that has given everything for us.  I don’t understand.
I couldn't help but cry and ask God for his forgiveness. Then it hit me, we have the disease of apathy. It has hit our worship, it has hit our homes, and it has invaded our relationship with Christ. We simply don’t care anymore. I've heard pastor after pastor talk about apathy from the pulpits, yet no change comes from the body. We don’t vote because we say, ‘ah our vote doesn't count anyhow.’ We don’t worship reverently because we say, ‘ah He loves us anyhow and I’m really tired.’ We don’t tell people about Christ because we say, ‘ah the Holy Spirit will tell Him or someone else will come along.’ We can’t get involved in the work of our churches because, ‘I just have to much going on.’ We are watching our children and teens wander away from God in droves, yet do nothing about it.  And the list goes on and on and on. My friend God says in his word not to be apathetic…

“Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” Romans 12:11

“Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.” Revelation 3:2

This unseen, yet rampant disease is crippling us and it is a sin in the sight of the Lord. Apathy causes us to bear no fruit and brings no glory to God. Now is the time to wake up from our apathetic state, before we all become nothing more than “walkers” roaming around with the dead of the world.
Just take an honest look at yourself and your family. This can be very eye opening. That is why many of us do not want to truly self-evaluate our lives. But take a moment and do this. What does your life with Christ look like? Is there true life? What I mean, is Christ really there? Does your life show that you care about Him and His Kingdom? Where is your time spent? What are you doing for him right now? Is there always an excuse for why you can’t be a part of the work at your church? What is your attendance like? Just a side note, did you know that only about 27% of “regular” church attenders attend their church 75% of the time. Most are now calling every other Sunday regular attendance. This is a problem.
If we were to be honest with ourselves, we would admit that we have all become infected with “apathy”. But, like the characters on “The Walking Dead”, we just haven’t realized we are infected. If asked, we would say, “There is no way I am apathetic to God.” Let’s ask ourselves this, when was the last time I really made an impact for His kingdom?”
Being a youth and children’s pastor, I see the spread of this disease first hand. I watch it spread from parents to children all the time. I am guilty of passing the infection also. Think about this. We send our kids to school for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 36 weeks of the year, and for 13 years of their life. That is, if they don’t go to college. Trust me, I believe that is extremely important. Just follow me a second. Also, in that time frame, we get them involved in sports, pageants, dance, work, practices, you name it. Then we have the busyness of our lives as adults and our pass times. What time is left?
According to the God’s word, what does it matter if we gain the world, yet lose our souls? With all that we do, where is God and the spiritual growth and education of our children? As I said, the majority of so called “Christ followers” only attend 50% of Sundays and by no means are they involved on Wednesdays. Our children may be getting an average of 4 to 6 hours of spiritual teaching a month. Can we see the problem with this? Can we see how we are spreading this disease?  What do we expect children and teens to do, when we are teaching them that everything else is more important than God? They will leave the church. They will leave God. And this disease will spread even faster.     
So what can we do? What is the answer to this problem? What is the cure? It’s simple. It is more of God and less of this world. It is more of His word, more time with Him, more time with His followers, and more time in His teaching and works. As a church, as Christ followers, let’s end this rampant outbreak of apathy before it is too late. Let’s be cured of apathy by reading the word, spending time with Him, praying, being reverent, and getting right with God. A simple cure is to “Abide in Him.”

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me (John 15:4).

The primary meaning of the word abide is to remain or to maintain a continual presence. The concept of abiding refers to maintaining an intimate, vital connection or relationship.  When it comes to grapevines (the illustration Christ used to represent the Christian’s relationship with Him) the only way that a branch can bear fruit is to maintain a vital relationship with the vine. Once that connection is damaged or broken the branch is no longer useful to the vine. It becomes sick or infected and withers away and dies. It has no purpose or use any longer. The only way that Christians can bear spiritual fruit is to maintain a vital relationship with Christ. Once that connection to Christ is damaged or broken our usefulness to God is adversely affected.
What are we going to do to stop the spread of apathy? I pray that this speaks to all of you that are reading, that God is blessed, and that His kingdom grows. Let’s work together and see that His people become spiritually alive once more. There is so much to be done and the time is now!

God bless all of you.

  Thanks Brother and as always lets ask ourselves: Does this touch us somewhere we are at in our own walk? Can we get back to a place of passion? Why have we allowed this kind of apathy to go on in the body of Christ?

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