I believe one of the greatest challenges facing American society today is a growing indifference to the Christian religion.
Beyond a Philosophy or Moral System
Most people, including atheists, would admit that Christianity helps to define moral behavior and distinguish right from wrong. Unfortunately, many people appreciate only this quality and use it as a reason to justify rejecting the Christian faith. Claiming a self-defined standard of morality, one feels he can discard God’s absolute standards, especially the ones he finds inconvenient. He then can act as he pleases and without feelings of guilt.
But our deepest values, truths, and motivations also lie within the Christian faith. Love, forgiveness, peacemaking, salvation, freedom, healing, heroic sacrifice, trust, integrity, hope, and protection of the weak—these and more are integral to our life in Christ. Indifference to Christ leads to indifference to these values as well. Edmund Burke once said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” When these values disappear, what motive will remain for us to overcome evil? Is acting in one’s self-interest enough? Will we even have a reason to live or reason to die? I don’t think so.
Even acknowledging these values is insufficient, for the Christian faith is not only about distinguishing right from wrong or providing us with lofty principles—it is about a relationship with Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God! Far more than just giving us a nice philosophy, God’s Spirit acts in and through us. Weakened by sin, we find life in the flesh alone to be one of discouraging failure. Either we live in constant frustration, or we learn to compromise our standards, shifting to a more comfortable, halfway life; a life characterized by apathy and indifference.
But not so for Christ’s disciples! God transforms us; not only through a positive mental attitude but by working in our hearts. He makes us anew through ongoing conversion. Whenever tempted to ignore uncomfortable truths, we feel his Spirit tugging on our hearts to go higher. Instead of experiencing frustration over our failures, we can seek and receive his forgiveness and peace. Rather than looking back with despair over a life of unfulfilled dreams and missed opportunities, we can know the gladness of a faithful servant who followed the Master in even the small things and now hears his Lord say, “Come, share your Master’s joy!”
Slipping into the Void
Unless, of course, we willingly refuse him. That is the result of apathy and indifference. You cannot know Christ and remain indifferent. He is life itself. To cut oneself off from Jesus is like sealing off the only water well in the desert. To the unbeliever, apathy seems reasonable. One who cares too much is naïve and likely to lose more than he gains. Those who claim belief without a relationship with Christ can fall into the same trap. But what about those who have tasted God’s goodness? Can they become indifferent to Jesus? Yes. It usually is a slow process, occurring in small, imperceptible steps. The indifferent Christian falls asleep so gradually that he never even knows it.
Indifference has always plagued mankind because it conveniently frees one from responsibility and allows us to justify sin. But I believe modern culture is accelerating the process. How?
Go back to the cultural counter-dynamics (the 4th blog in the series). Self-centrism encourages us to disregard what doesn’t directly affect us. It’s much easier to ignore others and mistreat them when we’re socially disconnected (e.g. rude driving behaviors or sending nasty tweets and emails). Secularism, promoted through the media and educational system, works to remove all mention of God and godly values. Tolerance is a pathetic substitute that leads us to become indifferent to the things that really matter. The overloaded are too busy and consumed with daily affairs to care about anything else. A secular life without Christ is a shallow or shadow life, with indifference its natural consequence.
Each of us must ask ourself: Have I become apathetic or indifferent to God? If you say “no,” then follow up with a second question: “Am I passionate and zealous for Christ and his kingdom?” If not, it’s time to search your heart.
Counter-Dynamics: Apathy & Indifference is the last of a 6-part series on Counter-Dynamics, or obstacles to conversion.