Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Answering Apathy

"Apathy is the glove into which evil slips its hand." Bodie Thoene

Do you know what finally made the 1960's Civil Rights movement a success? It wasn't the eloquently spoken words of one man, or the marching of thousands. It wasn't the refusal of one woman to move to the back of a mass transit bus, nor was it the actions of radicals who used force against force. Though all of these events certainly played their part in bringing success to the Civil Rights movement, none of them can solely claim responsibility for it's success. Only one thing can:

The conscious choice of a group of people to evict apathy from their lives. 

The Civil Rights movement, however, was a collective movement, one that affected, and altered the lives of millions of Americans, and thereby altered the very face of America herself. Because of a collective group of people's refusal to be indifferent anymore, we can now say that our country, and our future are much better off. 

However, just as the Civil Rights movement solved the problem of indifference for one class of people, we are faced with another, more dangerous face of apathy; the indifferent nature of people toward their relationship with God. All too often, when the subject of God comes up in conversation, we usually get one of three responses:

1) "God made me this way."

2) "God and I have an understanding."

3) "If I'm a good person, God will let me into heaven."

When someone says these things, they are actually redirecting the responsibility for their actions, whether they are good or bad, sins or not, from themselves and onto God. Usually, this comment is made by someone who does not have a relationship with God, and certainly not a healthy one. The problem with this line of thinking is that it is blatantly false. God did not create you to commit sin, and to live your life however you see fit. While it is true that He did give you free will to choose which path you'll take, this by no means that He is responsible for you committing your sins. 

It always makes me chuckle when I hear someone say that they and God have a mutual understanding on how that person is going to be, and that "everything is alright." I ask them if they've actually heard God's side of that "understanding" and if they're sure it really matches up to what their "understanding" is. God's half of this conversation takes place in the Bible, and I guarantee that it does not come into agreement that would lead someone to believe their faith can be based in apathy and indifference toward Him. In fact, if they did read the Bible to find out God's part of the conversation, one passage in particular would scare them. Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." To say that they have an understanding with God, aside from the one He set in motion at the creation week, would mean that they are a special person, not subject to this passage, with a free pass to sin and still meet the expectations and glory of God. Surely that's not what this person is saying, is it?

Last, God, as the Great Physician gave a prescription for the infection of sin in our lives, and nowhere is His prescription allowed to be substituted with "just being a good person." You have to follow His instructions precisely, just as the leper who dipped 7 times into the water to be cured (2 Kings 5:1-14). Six times wouldn't do it, and five just wasn't enough. It was after the seventh time, and only after the seventh time that he came up clean. We too, must follow God's prescription for our uncleanness with the same careful execution. We must hear the word of God (Romans 10:17), believe that Jesus is the Son of God (Matthew 16:16), be sorry of your sins (Acts 17:30,31), confess your belief in Jesus as the Son of God (Romans 10:8-10), and then be baptized for the remission of your sins, according to Acts 2:38. 

However, it doesn't end there. Just left at this leaves plenty of room for apathy to grow in the life of the one who was just saved. We must also continue to live faithfully, doing our part to work toward the kingdom of Heaven, because after all, James said that faith without works is dead (James 2:20). This is the kryptonite to the apathetic believer's agenda. The commandment to actively work our faith is not one that bodes well with any of the three excuses listed above. Yet, there it sits, in black and white. In the Word of God. Not to be ignored. 

God did not make you this way-He made you to be better.

God and you do not have an understanding, but He does have a plan.

Being a "good person" does not guarantee you a place in Heaven, but He made sure you can still get there. 

Are you willing to leave these excuses behind and begin working His plan His way?

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