In his book, Paths to Power, A.W. Tozer commented on the spiritual condition of the church, “To any casual observer of the religious scene today, two things will at once be evident: one, that there is very little sense of sin among the unsaved, and two, that the average professed Christian lives a life so worldly and careless that it is difficult to distinguish him from the unconverted man.” This statement was published in the 1940’s…I wonder what Tozer would think of the church in this new millennium?
The truth is, what really matters is what God thinks. I would contend that He is indifferent with our indifference. And for good reason…
Apathy is a cancer, not only to the body as a whole, but to every member that makes it up. Cancer typically begins in one isolated area, but is not confined there. It spreads, it grows, it takes over. Before long, if left unattended, it shuts down the entire operation. The truth is, whatever is wrong in the body, it is the result of something being wrong in the parts first. And it doesn’t matter who you are or how healthy you are, anyone can get it. Like cancer, apathy can kill the strongest of Christians.
More than any other group in the world, believers must safeguard themselves from this plague of indifference. I believe one of the reasons so few people come to Christ in these last days is because they are afraid they will end up like those who confess to know Him. As Tozer said, the average Christian lives in such a way that it is difficult to distinguish him from the unconverted man. If an individual confesses Christ and does not emanate joy, gladness, hope, and the such, then that individual is either unconverted or unmoved by the deep things of God.
If apathy is a cancer, how do we cut it out of our lives?
Intentionality – Live on Purpose
Believers fail to succeed at spiritual victories because somewhere in their minds they never intend to gain them. Intention is the rule of life for the overcomer. Say what you will, people do what they want to do; people do what they intend to do. That is why people make it out to ball games, hold down jobs, purchase homes, have children, and accomplish all kinds of goals. They intend to do these things. Therefore, if someone is apathetic, it is safe to say they have become satisfied with their indifference. If a believer is going to thrive in his walk with Christ, he must be deliberate. He must set goals, make up his mind, rely on the Spirit, and actively seek those things that belong to God.
Inspiration – Live with Passion
The apathetic life is rarely stimulated by the beauty and awe of God. Someone who is apathetic becomes impassive to God’s creation, God’s providence, and God’s design. Rarely amazed by the massive evidence of divine glory, they have a “so-what?” demeanor and approach to life. Inspiration is needed. Passion is required. To circumvent such disquieted living, you must be willing to see the sovereign enterprise all around you. Take a walk, read a book, watch a movie, explore the world. Stop, look around, look up, and find the majesty and mystery of things divine.
Influences – Live as Pupils
A life becomes cold and hardened when it fails to be touched by the warmth of others. Zig Ziglar said, “There is no better way to stay inspired than by spending time in the presence of inspirational people.” Who are your influences? Whenever you get that list, it is certain, you are the product of their habits, their demeanors, and their attitudes. To safeguard yourself from apathy, seek the influence of those who live for God, who grow in grace, who pursue the kingdom, who thrive in living, and who change the world. They just might change you.
Intercession – Live in Prayer
Prayer is the guardian of godliness and contentment. Find someone who persistently, consistently, and resolutely prays and you will find someone who rarely suffers from apathy. Pray breeds devotion. Pray brings determination. Prayer births delight. When someone frequently engages their heart and mind in the act of prayer, they will naturally be more inclined to keep their eyes and affections on the eternal. The greatest position in overcoming apathy is the one on your knees.
Increase – Live in Pursuit
To know Christ more, to love Christ better, to pursue Christ harder…these are the attributes of victorious living. The apostle Paul said, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings” (Philippians 3:10). Although Paul was already converted when he made that statement, it shows his continual desire to increase in the things of God. Apathy says, “I have all I need, all I want, all I desire to know.” But those who thrive in this life want to increase in their knowledge of God. John Maxwell said, “Living to your potential requires you to keep learning and expanding yourself. For that, you must have a teachable spirit. If you don’t, you will come to the end of your potential long before you come to the end of your life.”
Apathetic people, in a very real sense, have already come to the end of their lives, they have accepted their cancer. But those who long for more realize there is still a lot of life left to live, a lot of life left to love, and a lot of life left to learn.