Apathy: Do you even care? Aug06

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Apathy: Do you even care?

I recently watched one of President Obama’s campaign ads, demonstrating how to give money to his campaign online.  Something he said in the ad really struck me.  “The way we win, is because, we have a lot more supporters who are passionate, and care about the vision that we put forward for the country.”  Whether that statement is factually true or not, I’m not sure.  But I understand where he gets that notion from.  The most popular and visible people in our culture are often liberal-minded and unafraid to share their opinions with others (ahem, media, celebrities).  Even if they’re not passionately speaking out, most of my liberal friends are passionate about something, even if it’s just their vegan diet or love of nature.  Not so true of conservatives or Christians, unfortunately.  It grieves me greatly to say this, but the most defeatist, apathetic people I know are Christians.

So that leads me to one big question… if we say that we actually believe in Jesus and the gospel, why don’t our actions, attitudes, and voices reflect that more passionately to the people around us?  I think that passion, in general, erupts from a place of identity.  Is our identity, individually as Christians, truly rooted in the belief that we are blood-bought, adopted and cherished sons and daughters of God, the Creator of heaven and Earth?  Or is our identity rooted in something else like our marriage, parenthood, career, appearance, or possessions?  If it’s one of the latter, our passions will not be for the gospel first.  Instead, we will be timid and cautious for the gospel.  We will fear and avoid anything that distracts from our first “identity”.

Over the weekend, I listened to a sermon by Dr. John Piper on Fasting.  I wasn’t thinking about apathy at all – I was listening intently to learn about the purpose of fasting and what that discipline looks like.  But I was stopped in my tracks when he started to explain why he thought fasting isn’t practiced or mentioned very often in our churches today:

“Everybody tries to answer why it’s a lost art… I think the reason is, we don’t hunger nearly enough!  We settle for this and that, money and career.  We don’t have real spiritual passions.  When people have desperate cravings for God, for the salvation of a son, a daughter… the transformation of a church, and a city – when they’re desperate, they fast!  Our longings are not strong.  That’s why we don’t fast.  And therefore, my prayer leading up to today is mainly, God, give us desires.  Give these people here passion!”

That is my prayer today too.  From a very early age, God has given me strong feelings and strong desires.  I can honestly say that there is a burning passion in my soul to speak the truth and a desire to live authentically – not hiding – not glossing over the real issues of life.  Have I bridled that passion with wisdom and love?  Not always.  Do I sometimes wish that I didn’t feel so strongly about things?  Yes, life would be a lot easier.  Have I been rejected by people because of these desires?  At times.  But I’m mostly thankful because I believe that God hates apathy.

“So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:16.  “Let love be genuine.  Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good… Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. ” Romans 12:9 & 11  “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”  2 Timothy 4:3-4.  “At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will he do ill.’” Zephaniah 1:12.  (ESV, emphasis my own)

I want to implore you today, to care about what is going on in the world outside of your walls.  If you don’t care, pray that God would give you the desire and the courage.  He cares deeply about what goes on in our culture, our people, our leaders, and our government.  Politics are important.  They are important because they affect our freedom to say what we want, worship what we want, and protect those that we want.  Let this be the day that you evaluate where your passions lie.  Today is the day to kill your apathy – and get your hands dirty.