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Apathy is a lack of interest, emotion, or concern. It is very dangerous as a way of life, because it is a withdrawal from all things, important or unimportant. And, if we are apathetic or unconcerned about some things and not about others, we had better be sure we have our priorities right. With apathy, our lives can become a cesspool of dirty, smelly, stagnant (apathetic) water, useful to neither ourselves or others. To be sure, by then we have departed from God's will and purpose in our lives, which means we have departed from Him. God may try various interventions in order to reach us, including letting us stay in that cesspool until we are tired of the smell. Otherwise, He can be found reaching into it, stirring it up in order to get our attention. Whatever the case, we cannot complain afterwards over whatever happened that finally woke us up, for we can use that crisis to motivate ourselves to accept God's strength to make a change.

But God would rather have our attention in the first place, because He loves us and wishes to spare us from our own foolishness or ignorance. We are fortunate that He has provided warnings in His Word so we might avoid falling into our own personal cesspool. Yet it is not just about us. The human condition of self-centeredness would have it be just about us, but our passive stance, our denial, and our inattentiveness do affect other people too, whether we acknowledge it or not. God is never disinterested or blind to our true spiritual condition, even if we are.

It is very important that we be aware of the fact that apathy disgusts God, and that He holds us accountable for it. Apathy disgusts God because:

- it is the quality of the wicked

Prov. 29:7 The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern. - it promotes injustice, leading to death and suffering Prov. 24:10-12 If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength! Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, "But we knew nothing about this," does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?

(see also Prov. 28:4 and Prov.29:27)

- it promotes corruption, sin, and error, leading to bondage for those who are spiritually immature and/or who are easily corrupted Rev. 2:18-20 "To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. In this last example in Revelations, the Lord is essentially asking the church of Thyatira to toss out a false prophetess whose teachings lead His people into sexual sin and idolatry. This is because He cares about His young lambs in the Christian fellowship.

What we see throughout the scriptures is that God hates apathy because God hates the evil that flourishes while people say nothing and do nothing. He cares about the naïve, helpless, and innocent who suffer in the society, community, fellowship, or family who has let evil overrun them. He even cares about sinners who are walking toward their destruction. Those who doubt God's care, usually doubt it because they have experienced no action on their behalf and are hurt that God has failed to rescue them from the event or events of their victimization. They can't help but feel abandoned in the throes of their pain (if the religious doubt this, let them search the Psalms!), and they can easily become as apathetic toward God as they believe God has become toward them.

However, God's Perfect Will is not found on earth as it is in heaven. If earth were as ordered and perfect as heaven, Jesus would not have instructed us to pray for earth's 'realignment' in what is commonly known as the Lord's Prayer (i.e. "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven"). God has left man with his own free will, and fully expects man to steward himself and the earth according to His instructions or conscience. This includes matters of both mercy and justice. As for these, he left instructions for the nation of Israel as an example of law and order, and He sent Jesus as an example of mercy and grace. While the tension between these examples may cause endless debate, nevertheless God in His wisdom left us to make our own decisions and judgments as to how we should solve this tension. However, what is clear beyond any nitpicking over what is acceptable, is that God Himself is angered when we fail to carry out either justice or mercy. In this example below, God is moved to carry out Justice Himself against a society that has greatly displeased Him:

Isa. 59:8-18 The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks in them will know peace. So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes. At midday we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead. We all growl like bears; we moan mournfully like doves. We look for justice, but find none; for deliverance, but it is far away. For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities: rebellion and treachery against the LORD, turning our backs on our God, fomenting oppression and revolt, uttering lies our hearts have conceived. So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm worked salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak. According to what they have done, so will he repay wrath to his enemies and retribution to his foes; he will repay the islands their due. We see above that wickedness is being multiplied, unchecked. Those who would correct it are slaughtered and nullified. The people suffer and seem to desire help and hope, but they do so as a "blind man". They are also "like the dead," and the prophet proclaims that they are reaping what they have sown into their society. Sin and the injustice, plus the fact that no one was left to care, appalled God. Man had failed to carry out what he was fully equipped to carry out both by common decency and by God’s earlier instructions, and so God is eventually moved to carry out righteous judgment.

Fast forward to the future and take a look at the spiritual condition described in the Laodicean Church:

Rev. 3:14-19 "To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Just as God did for the wayward nation of Israel, God warns through His prophets that He will rebuke and discipline His own. He does this to save His fallen Bride from the most deplorable of spiritual conditions: arrogance (blindness) to true condition, nakedness (unrighteousness), wretchedness, and poverty in spirit. By ‘save’, I do not mean that God has prevented her from coming to such a condition, for she is already there in her foolishness. Rather, that He will severely discipline with restraint, to redeem her corporately from complete destruction while ‘saving’ a remnant of certain individuals. Read Isa. 57:1-21 as well as other scriptures before Israel’s exile, and you will read a similar enough general description, concept, and plan as we see in Rev. 3:14-19.


How does one get to the point of apathy that the Laodicean church did? One clue might be the reference to riches and acquired wealth in the Lord's rebuke to her (Rev. 3:17). Israel too, became apathetic about her own sin, as she turned away from God to pursue her hedonistic lifestyle (Hosea 7:13). Could wealth and worldly pleasure play a role in complacency?:

Hosea 13:6: As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, And being satisfied, their heart became proud; Therefore, they forgot Me. When one considers how apathy begins and then slides a people into deterioration, one might consider this: As people become apathetic toward God as their source of blessings and protection, they consider Him no longer so important. Proud of their own national and humanistic accomplishments, they credit themselves more than Him for their daily bread. Losing their spiritual center, they turn toward something else (a hedonistic lifestyle and other seductions, as in the case of fallen Israel). They then squander the wealth and ease that God originally provided on various self-indulgences (here again is the self-centeredness of apathy). It is no wonder the New Testament writers warned of the deceitfulness of riches (James 5:1-8). Wealth, pride, and misplaced priorities can lead people to care only for their own desires and comfort: Isa. 56: 9-11 Come, all you beasts of the field, come and devour, all you beasts of the forest!

Israel's watchmen are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs, they cannot bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep. They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough. They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, each seeks his own gain.

Israel’s priests, prophets, and kings had all vacated their position of watching over God’s people. Apathy and corruption had destroyed their leadership abilities. The Lord had always been interested in establishing righteous leaders (Num. 27:15-17, Ps. 78:70-72), but the people chose unrighteous ones instead, and He found this wholly unacceptable (Jer. 5:31). The false shepherds they ended up following were so self-indulgent that they did not care for His people (Ezek. 34:8). Their sin was so great, that eventually God decided to leave that failing System behind for a new one. This time He did not provide a Moses as before, nor a group of shepherds (plural) to care for His people. Instead, he promised a new Shepherd who was mystically called, "my servant David" (verse 23). He alone would become the Shepherd of the future (Isa. 40:1-11- compare verse 3 with Matt. 3:3)

As for prophets, it is worthy to note that though they were the only spiritual leaders who "barked" against corruption, this did not save the nation of Israel. Isaiah cried out against injustice (Isa. 58:1), Habakkuk lamented over injustice (Hab. Chapt. 1), and Jeremiah was so vexed by betrayal that he asked for vengeance from God (Jer. 18:18-23). God was not rebuking these prophets when He revealed the spiritual state of the ‘church’ there in Israel. They were not the mute and dumb dogs, but are instead full of passion! They were definitely the minority though, and not the majority. Sadly, the people would not heed them.

It should be clear through the study of Scripture that God is not impressed with misplaced fervor any more than He is impressed with apathy. The prophets sent by God were passionately consumed with God's concerns, while the people of Israel were completely apathetic over God Himself. It is common to be passionate about the wrong things and apathetic about the wrong things when our priorities are upside down.

In today's American Church, too many are clanging cymbals for self-serving or shallow causes. It is time for the compromised to take up their crosses and the weary to take upon themselves the easy yoke, and follow the One True Shepherd (instead of the false shepherds) out of the deceptions of blindness, complacency, and corruption. The spiritual survival of our nation is already at risk, and our example of Israel shows that a nation's physical survival depends upon the spiritual.

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