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25 February 2008

The Apathy Meter

One of the major problems in troubled marriages is often that one of the parties has become apathetic toward the other. I'm not speaking here about being hateful (which is, of course a huge issue and is also the case many times), but being apathetic.

(image removed as permission to use is requested -- http://www.redbubble.com/people/digerati/clothing/417240-6-apathy-meter)

A partner in marriage can be unknowingly (or knowingly) lured into apathy by lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, or the pride of life. I really like the way that the New Living Translation renders 1 John 2:16: "For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world."

I say this all very delicately, not to attempt to diagnose and/or repair struggling marriages in a blog post, but anyone who has been on the receiving end of apathy in a once-thriving relationship knows how painful it can be, and how absolutely helpless the feeling is which accompanys it. There is usually a deep desire to somehow get the other person to simply care again, and it seems that with every effort to rekindle the fire of the relationship, it just becomes damaged further.

In God's Word, the relationship of Christ to the Church is compared to that of a marriage: "For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church." (Ephesians 5:30-32, NKJV)

How integrated is the mind of Christ with ours? How is the Holy Spirit's control of our lives? How's your apathy meter? In the case of the apathetic Christian, I am not suggesting that God, like a human spouse, has a gaping sense of helplessness where the apathetic follower of Christ is concerned. Rather, here is what Jesus Christ says: "I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!" (Revelation 3:15-16, NLT) Yow! He says this to the Church!

The question may be asked, "So are you saying that someone who's a Christian can somehow lose his salvation?" My response would be something like this: "I didn't say that. Jesus says in Revelation 5:15-16, 'I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!'"

Let's not get to the point in our lives where our apathy meter would bring us to the point of asking whether or not we're lukewarm. Let's immerse ourselves daily -- moment by moment -- in the Word of God, prayer, meditation, good works, and fellowship with the body of Christ.

(A note about the image in today's post: I am in no way endorsing the content or the user comments at RedBubble.com. The image above is simply a visual illustration and the link to the product is provided as an acknowledgement of RedBubble.com's ownership of the content)

9 comments:

Leroy said...

The lack of trials in our lives can lead to contentment; contentment can lead to complacency; complacency can lead to apathy. Just another way we should consider it a joy when we face various "trials".

That may have been way, way, WAY out in right field when related to your post. But that's pretty normal for me. :)

Preston N said...

Well, leave it to me to throw out the first theological hand grenade! Rev 3:15-12 is an interesting verse because it uses the word "Works". Note that it doesn't say faith here but rather implies that our faith (motivation of heart) is what generates our outward works (James 2:14-17).

Therefore, the real question that needs to be asked is not "Can we lose our salvation?" But rather the correct question is "are saved from sinning?". If we sin, then clearly we are not saved from it (See Romans 6). The real question is, do you remain a child of God if you continue in your sins (I John 1:2-5, 3:7-10). Therefore, as Dean mentioned, we need to be Christ "minded" each and every minute of each and everyday. If we take our eyes off Jesus, then we are bound to stumble and fall - and this is not a desirable place to be nor is it the place God desires any of his children.

Anonymous said...

Guys
I think the point is being missed. Dean is not asking about salvation whether you keep it or loose it, but rather if we have or could become apatheitic? Apathy is not what God wants in our lives. He tell us (through the church at Corinth)to be holy and sanctified. It is hard to be either if we are not focused on Jesus Christ. It is easy to beome apathetic if we are not focused on Jesus.
I have wondered if we have (and for the most part I would argue that we the churches in the US) become largly apathetic. To be honest we do not look for Jesus to come today, or tomorrow or next year. Most likely most of us have not even thought about Jesus' return, until I just wrote someething about it, for days. The early church thought of His return every day, that is why I believe they stayed pure, until they too took their eyes of Him as well..
Lets be real, all of us are more apathetic than we want to admit. The real TRUTH is can we admit it?

Preston N said...

I guess that's the point I was trying to make. Personally the whole theology of OSAS (Once Saved Always Saved) is a tool by which Christians have used for centuries to allow themselves to become apathetic. In otherwords, once I am in the "club", why should I have to worry about my salvation any longer?

This type of theology is dangerous because it lulls one into thinking that no matter what I do (or don't do for that matter) I am going to make it to heaven. Instead we should live everyday as if our very soul depended on pleasing our Lord and Savior (Psalm 19:14). I am by no means promoting a works based salvation here, but just as the Rev 3:15-16 verse states, it is by our "works(through faith)" that will ultimately be judged by God - therefore we need to make sure it is "by faith" in how we living each and everyday.

Now the bigger question is "what exactly is evangelical faith and how do I know I have it?". (Dean - I'll drop this topic into your "Suggestion Box" for a later post):)

Leroy said...

Preston said...:I guess that's the point I was trying to make. Personally the whole theology of OSAS (Once Saved Always Saved) is a tool by which Christians have used for centuries to allow themselves to become apathetic. In otherwords, once I am in the "club", why should I have to worry about my salvation any longer?"

That's what the Bible teaches us. Don't forget that if we are truly saved, then we get a heart transplant (so to speak) and we lose the desire to chase things of old and focus on the prize in front of us. Yes, we can lose focus and stray, but the price for our sin has been paid. We must repent as many times as need be. We must NOT use it as a crutch to continue sinning.

Also, to say Christian apathy is based on the doctrine of once saved always saved is reckless in my opinion and completely ignores any other method or avenue of becoming apethic.

Tony M said...

I could be wrong, but I don't think Preston was saying OSAS is the only way to Christian apathy, but one (frequent) route. Which it may be.

As far as your first comment... maybe complacency and contentment have led to my current trials...? Thanks for shedding some light... :)

Preston N said...

Leroy - Just as Tony pointed out my point was that OSAS is just one of the many excuses or avenues by which apathy can and does occur. I completely agree with your definition of a change of heart as a sign of true faith, the real question here is can someone who once had real genuine faith decide to walk away from God under their own freewill? Paul tells us over and over that we must be sure to "finish the race" and to be sure that we endure to the very end.

Jesus says in Mat 10:22 "You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved". In context, Jesus warns his followers that they will face great adversity and trials on his behalf, but it is those who keep their faith until the very end that will be saved. Apathy means to lose interest or to be indifferent (to God in this case). So even Jesus warns us that even as believers we need to be on guard of apathy and that we must endure to the end of our lives in order to enter into the Kingdom.

Leroy said...

Thanks for the clarification. That's more better clearer to my simple mind. :)

Dean Lusk said...

Some really good, pointed comments here.

I'll examine the "evangelical faith" topic personally before posting something on it, but that's a great topic! It's almost another one of those self-defining phrases, but I think many of us say that this is the kind of faith we have, but evidence to back up our statement is often lacking.

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