APATHY: A MAJOR PROBLEM CONFRONTING CHRISTIANS
1. Five years ago, I preached a sermon here on the subject of "INDIFFERENCE."
A. Apathy and indifference are kindred words. Actually, they are synonyms.
B. During the course of five years since I preached on indifference, I have also preached sermons that warned of the dangers of apathy and indifference.
C. But, it is time once again to look into this subject from different angles.
2. In surveys that have been made concerning major problems confronting nominal Christianity today, at the top of the list is "Apathy and Indifference."
3. Surveys and polls, taken to show what is taking place in the religious world today, indicate a deep decline in church attendance.
A. So, since apathy and indifference are the major problems facing the religion of the world today, this would seem to be the very reason that church attendance is way down.
4. This problem of apathy and indifference is not only the major problem of the religious world in general, it seems to also be "A" if not "The" major problem among churches of Christ as well.
5. Now, let us study the subject of "APATHY" under some different headings:
I. WHAT IS APATHY?
A. Webster says that apathy is:
1. "Lack of emotion;
2. Lack of interest; listless condition; indifference." One that is "apathetic" toward the salvation of his soul, is a "pathetic" sight to those that love his soul.
1. Some of the synonyms of apathy are: Impassiveness, Indifference, Lethargy, and Unconcern.
a. So, when I speak of "Apathy: A Major Problem Confronting Christians," I am speaking of the lack of interest which many Christians show toward spiritual things.
2. To demonstrate that apathy is a problem to congregations among us, one only needs to compare Sunday morning attendance with the rest of the services.
a. Furthermore, even some of those that come to the Bible studies on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, come without having even looked at the Bible lesson ahead of time.
3. So, apathy is an attitude of indifference and unconcern toward spiritual things.
II. WHAT IS WRONG WITH APATHY?
A. It destroys a congregation.
1. The wise man said: "By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through." Eccl. 10:18.
2. He also said: "He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster." Prov. 18:9.
3. We should recognize that a man does not have to tear down a house in order to destroy it.
a. All that he has to do is just fail to repair the things which need repairing and soon the house will collapse.
4. A man doesn't have to burn a field in order to destroy a crop.
a. All he needs to do is to fail to plow it, weed it, and fertilize it to produce the same effect.
5. If we can recognize and understand these things in the physical, secular world, we should also be able to see that such is also true of the spiritual world.
a. Neglecting the services discourages the weak and influences those who are not members to continue as they are.
6. The Lord warned brethren about destroying the church.
a. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God; and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." 1 Cor. 3:16,17.
B. It causes spiritual needs to go unmet.
1. When apathy afflicts a congregation, spiritual needs are unmet.
2. Each of us recognizes that the gospel is God's power for salvation. Rom. 1:16.
a. One cannot be converted without being taught the gosel of Christ. Mk. 16:15,16; Jno. 8:32.
b. This is the only means that God uses to draw lost souls unto Him. Jno. 6:44,45.
3. However, when apathy sets in, the work of taking the gospel to a lost and dying world almost comes to a standstill.
4. Those that are weak among us need encouraging.
a. They need special attention. 1 Thes. 5:14; Gal. 6:1; Jas. 5:19,20.
b. However, when apathy sets in, the work to restore and strengthen the weak and wayward goes unmet.
C. It destroys the quality of worship.
1. In order for worship to be acceptable to God, it must come from the heart. Jno. 4:23,24.
2. God never has been pleased by mere outward ceremonies. Mic. 6:6-8.
3. So, in our worship today, every item demands our fullest concentration and attention.
a. During the sermon every Christian is to listen carefully and search the scriptures. Acts 17:11.
b. During the singing, every Christian is to "make melody in his heart unto the Lord", Eph. 5:19, "singing with grace in the heart." Col. 3:16.
c. During the prayer, every Christian is to listen very carefully in order to give his "Amen" to what is said. 1 Cor. 14:16.
d. In order to properly observe the Lord's Supper, one must remember the death and suffering of Christ upon the cross. 1 Cor. 11:24-29.
e. Even our giving is to be done with purpose in our hearts. 2 Cor. 9:6,7.
4. Yet, when apathy afflicts members, the quality of worship is destroyed!
a. When such is the case, members fall asleep, or day-dream.
b. Some pass notes, clip their finger nails, whisper, play with babies, etc.
1) These are the fruits of apathy.
D. Apathy puts God second in our lives.
1. Spiritual indifference occurs because something has taken priority over God in one's life.
2. The seed of the kingdom is choked out by the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches. Matt. 13:22.
3. But God will not take second place in one's life. Exo. 20:3.
a. Christ commanded, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness. ..." Matt. 6:33.
b. Again, He says: "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me." Matt. 10:37,38.
1) Luke's account says: "taketh up his cross daily". 9:23.
c. Take time to study Lk. 14:15-35 on this thought.
4. Certainly, if God will not even allow one to put members of his own family before Him in reference to priority, He will by no means tolerate a man putting some type of game or sport before Him.
5. Neither will He tolerate being placed second to TV, Shopping, Visiting, Dining out, etc.
a. Yes, apathy is sinful because it manifests that one's priorities have been misplaced.
E. Apathy is wrong because it damns the soul.
1. If apathy brings about all the things that we have been talking about, certainly it will damn one's soul.
2. Three of the seven churches of Asia were plagued with apathy. So, the sin of apathy is not new.
a. Note these scriptures: Rev. 2:4,5; 3:1-3, 16,17.
b. These quotations surely show God's disapproval of apathy.
c. So, we must accept the conclusion that an apathetic attitude toward Christ and service to Him will damn one's soul.
1. In this first lesson of two on this subject of apathy, we have noted that:
A. Apathy is a number one problem in religious circles.
B. We have determined what apathy is.
C. And we have concluded that it is wrong and sinful.
2. So, what about you, are you apathetic when it comes to serving the Lord?
By Jim Sasser
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