The Apathy Factor

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“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.  And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability” (Acts 2:1-4 NRS).



Apathy is defined, by dictionary.com, as:

1. absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement.
2. lack of interest in or concerning things that others find moving or exciting.


(Image courtesy of multiplaying.net)

Apathy is pandemic in Christianity.  It’s that malaise that permeates worship on Sunday morning.  It’s the disinterest of its own devotees in the doctrine by which they profess to live (and die).  It is evident in people who care nothing about the history which defines them and the modern incarnation of the Church.  It’s that “I don’t know” and shrug you get when you ask someone why they do something in their church.  Apathy is in the pastor who will not actively fight the forces of indifference within their congregation, much less on a global Church level.

Apathy devours faith and regurgitates acquiescence.  It turns belief into disregard.  It hides in those who are able and disables them from being a vital part of the Body of Christ.  It handicaps the capable by disillusioning them to the power of the Holy Spirit.  Apathy is the greatest foe to Christianity, and it is a force working to undermine the Church from within.  It is within the Church universal, the local church, and the individual Christian.  It is the spiritual antithesis of Pentecost.  On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and lit them on fire.  They were instantly filled with the Spirit of God and empowered to do that which they could not have done before on their own.

When was the last time you were set on fire?  What made you burn with excitement?  When was the last time you felt that way in church?  Enter the awkward pause as we try to recall.  I can tell you that I was burning the last time I preached.  I have been set on fire every time I preached because I can’t help but be excited to be in the midst of God’s people bringing them God’s Word and being part of the mysterious movement of the Holy Spirit in worship.  While I can only hope and pray that those who heard my sermon and received my message were also set on fire, I don’t stop doing what I am called to do.  If nothing else, I will push myself further, harder, deeper into the sacred text.  When you stand back and turn a critical eye on the Church, do you think to yourself, “This is what Christ deserves.” and believe that to be true?  If the answer is no, and I am prepared that it very well might be, then what is our response?  Apathy wants us to get disenchanted and then disinterested so that we walk away.  Apathy wants us to effectively abandon Jesus Christ and the Church he called forth into existence.  The Holy Spirit, the animator of Pentecost, wants us to burn with righteous indignation and passion to make a real change, not the half hearted “I gave it my best shot and lost out to the institutionalized system” junk I hear all over the internet.  Is Christ going to accept that any more than Christ is willing to accept the apathy of his Church?

Christ calls us to find our fire.  To embody the Holy Spirit which he sent to us!  We set ourselves on fire with passion for our faith, and if we do, then others will come and seek that burning too.  I believe that people want to be excited, they want to burn with the energy generated by vibrant faith.  We have to find those people that also want to be lit with the fiery presence of God, and join together to spread that fire to others.  The light of Jesus Christ isn’t just some pretty visual change in the photo spectrum; it is the raw power and energy of fire that warms the heart and energizes those that possess it.  So find your fire for Christ, and let it burn until it consumes all the apathy this world has to offer.

Prayer:
Jesus Christ,
Our Lord and Savior.
How can we stand righteous before you,
When we refuse to receive the Holy Spirit you so generously offered to us?
Can we stand idly by and watch as apathy infects your people?
We want to be the people of faith you call from the darkness.
We desire to be beacons in a world clouded by sin.
We stand as tinder for the fire,
Waiting to be ignited once more.
Drown out our apathetic inclination;
Replace it with the fuel of faith.
You did not suffer, die, and rise from the dead for anything less,
Than our best and our greatest passion,
Expressed in our witness and our deeds.
May our fire never go out.
May we rekindle what we have lost.
You are worthy of all that we have to offer.
May we give you nothing less.
Amen.

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