ARISE AND SHINE
When Godís prophets rebuked Israel, God addressed the only "believers" available during ancient times. He indicated that there would be a future of redeemed people, or a remnant:
Obviously, the Apostle Paul is hoping to warn believers from being deceived into the 'darkness' of an empty, outside of the cup, religion that has no power to transform us into worthy, productive citizens of the Kingdom. The only way to really protect ourselves from their poison is certainly not to hang around them, and not even to talk to them (as a well-known axiom says: bad company corrupts good morals). See also one of Paul's exhortations to believers here:
Any "believer" who refuses/denies God's power and love, will show it by walking in the darkness. We are not to be fooled by their outward, superficial "form" of godly talk and ritual, regular church attendance, tithe giving or what have you. Instead, we are clearly instructed to shun these false believers (1 Corinth. 5:11-13), while likewise not judging the unbeliever. I dare say that if we ever followed the Scriptures on this, we would have already done one of two things. Either, we would have already shunned these false believers who are lost in their recalcitrant sins, and by doing so, we would have made it real to them that they are not real Christians and they could be brought to true repentance and therefore, true conversion for the first time in their lives. OR, we would have left our corrupt churches behind already and found fellowship elsewhere, even if it is not in your typical setting.
Tragically though, our churches convince unbelievers that the Gospel is an irrelevant hoax, since unrepentant religious people are as bad or worse than the average unbeliever. Our churches by and large keep the worst of the nominal believers in them, even honor them, while expelling other believers over minor, often extra-Biblical and man-made traditions or 'infractions'. Our churches automatically shun those who are not fake and who by confession of their weaknesses, sincerely seek help and restoration. These religious people probably shun their weaker brothers because they do not know how to deal with such honesty, or because in their heart of hearts they do not really believe the power of the Gospel to transform. Instead, they erroneously think that our own strength and merit accomplishes our own healing, and that restoration can be done without confession and appeal to the wise (Romans 15:1-7).
This is what happens when a form of outward godliness is upheld while honesty and power is despised. This is indeed the darkness we have come to over our land in America, even in the churches that believe in the gifts of the Spirit (lest we think "power" only means gifts, and that if we have gifts, we have wisdom).
These are the results of apathy over the things and priorities of God, and zeal without wisdom. But as for those of us who desire the Life of Christ, the Walk is not that hard to find except for the ignorance of the religious, if we were to submit ourselves to their teachings or discipleship (Matt. 23:13). As for us, we are not to slumber in sin and darkness, but instead to rise up and walk in the light of truth and confession (1 John 1:5-10), and let the Lord shine upon us.
In closing, whatever we are apathetic about, we are dead to. Whatever we are apathetic about, we are in danger of. It is a good thing to be dead to sin and alive to Love and Life, and the good deeds that should naturally overflow from our new life in Christ, if indeed we are real and we are His. To recap, let us go over the steps needed to rise from dead works in this life, and come alive to our new Life of Christ:
Really believing Godís love and grace for us, really loving God, really hating sin and the old life, and really loving others: All of these things are so inter-related and interdependent, that they cannot be completely pulled apart. There are both passive steps and active ones, and the active ones complete or "seal" the process of Godís work in our lives. As it says in Scripture: "You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone," (James 2:24) and "he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit: for apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).
I am a survivor of the very worst kind of apathy: The kind that was done knowingly and the kind that involved multiple people. Worst of all, these tribulations by others did not come to me from an expected source, but from a wholly unexpected source: those who claimed to be Christians. Although I could say other important things were involved too, I can firmly say that apathy, or lack of compassion, was nearly my deathblow.
I urge you my fellow Christians, to not let it be your deathblow. Do not become dead to Christ by neglecting His heavenly gift in you, or by burying or refusing your part on this earth for the good deeds He would do through you. Loving God or man is not lipservice, but action. A proclamation of faith is not the end of your Life in Christ, but the beginning. So dear Christians, for the sake of your brothers and sisters in Christ, your neighbors, and even your country, speak up in the face of apathy with soberness, conviction, compassion, and hope. Ask not just for healing, but for the refining fire too. Reverse the tragic consequences of apathy by your own deeds wherever you can. Believe in Christ's redemption and power, love one another, and do good deeds as you abide in Christ's love.
2 Thess. 2:16-17 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
Teri Lee Earl
© Copyright 2002 by Teri Lee Earl (written from August, 2001- January, 2002)
The New American Standard Bible
"Happy Dependence Day" July 4, 2000 article by Joseph Farah, editor of WorldNetDaily.com, who quotes The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon, printed in 1788.
Operation Drumbeat, The dramatic true story of Germany's first U-Boat
attacks along the American coast in World War II,
by Michael Gannon, copyright 1990 by Harper & Row Publishers, see especially pp. 88-99, 170, 212, 240-241, 266-267, 338-339, 344-345, 388-391, and pp. 411-415
"FDR", Part II, written and produced by David Grubin, a documentary aired on the PBS channel, 1997
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by Teri Lee Earl, Copyright 2002, HarvestNETwork
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