What’s the difference between Ignorance and Apathy? [anyone know the answer? It’s a common joke] “I don’t know and I don’t care.”
Overcoming apathy. I’m taking liberty in today’s message. In the last verse, Eph. 3:13, Paul says “do not be discouraged...” There is a difference between discouragement and apathy. Apathy is one more step of indifference beyond discouragement. Apathy is everything discouragement is except you add an element of not caring. Apathy literally means lack of emotions…
We cannot give up. We cannot quit caring. Apathy ~ the attitude of indifference must not be a part of our DNA. . . detachment . . . and dispassion. When apathy takes over, with it come lack of energy, “paralyzed” to act— God wants us to care deeply, he wants us to have a joy, a drive, energy…
The scripture says “not to be discouraged,” but I’m taking the liberty of substituting the word apathy instead: Overcoming Apathy.
Glancing back over this scripture, Paul gives a positive description of how it is that he is passionate about his calling from God… reminder from last week, he is a prisoner of Rome, although he says “a prisoner of Jesus Christ.” Every line in these verses are a positive description of how he could easily be discouraged, but instead he is encouraged. He is not apathetic, but he is excited about his calling, Jesus Christ…
The answer to overcoming apathy lies in the need to adopt the same positive attitude that is found in Paul… Paul, who humanly speaking should be discouraged as a prisoner in jail, uncertain of his human fate, is amazingly hopeful.
#1. I have deep roots. A depressed apathetic person is likely to divorce themselves from their past, forgetting where they came from, or pine for the good old days. For Paul, his past means deep roots that keep him strong: READ Eph. 3:7…. God established me, his grace, it’s all God… remember where you came from and give credit to God. That’s how you overcome apathy.
#2. I am small, but God is BIG. A person with apathy feels like nothing; they are likely to stop with the first half of Eph. 3:8 and skip the 2nd half. [READ first half and comment… second half and comment…] the unsearchable riches of Christ… that’s a thought to dwell on as a way of life, to constantly be amazed. People with apathy can’t get past themselves, everything is about them, feeling sorry for themselves… one of the hard conscepts to get across to people struggling with faith and what it means to be a Christian is that the truth is we are small. That’s the point, but instead of focusing how small and unworthy we are, we need to embrace the transforming truth that the grace of God is beyond comprehension: the unsearchable riches of Christ. Paul says he can’t even begin to fathom the total meaning of God’s Amazing Grace, yet he is called to preach it. What a wonderfully amazing assignment…
Overcoming apathy: I am small, but my God is unfathomably huge…
#3. God’s message is simple. A person suffering from apathy has a whirlwind of complicated contradictory never ending circle of thoughts… How many people suffer from overthinking everything under the sun! don’t make life so complicated! Even though God is huge, to know him brings clarity of thought. READ Eph. 3:9.
Peace with God and clarity of mind seem to go together. It is not contradictory in the nature of God on the one hand he is unfathomably huge, but on the other hand the message of salvation and his love for us is plain. To those who don’t know Christ the mystery of Christ makes no sense, but for those who are committed to Christ and walking with him, the mystery is comforting, to know his love, to know who he is…
On Friday, I went with Phil DeFrene to the London Express, a cargo ship with an Indian crew. (Next week he’ll speak here). The crew is a mix of Muslims, Hindus and Christians… one of the Hindu young men, age 26, asked Phil a question: “Was Jesus a Muslim or a Christian”…. I recorded for ten minutes Phil’s conversation as Phil did his best to make plain the mystery of Christ to this young man… Beautiful, I hope the tape gives a smidgeon of what it was like…. For a person who is feeling lost and just not caring about anything, the need is to bring the simple message of Christ back to your heart, declutter your mind and life from what is not important… but to have a plain simple understanding, heartfelt peace….
#4. My purpose transcends to the heavens!!! A person with apathy feels small, thinks nobody pays attention, feels like even God has abandoned them… Eph. 3:10-11 is an astoundingly huge verse. READ. I cannot know what all this means for sure. Many people conclude that “the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms” is a reference to angels. They interpret this verse to mean something like one of the great purposes of the Church ~ God’s People ~ is to bless the angels. Could be… I personally think the heavenly realms is broader than angels… All the heavenly beings of which we cannot fathom, yet somehow we are blessing them…
The person with apathy has a sense that nobody cares, nobody is paying attention, no purpose… You overcome apathy as you realize God is paying attention and so are all the heavenlies… we live on this world, but there is more to this world than this world, and as people of faith I believe there is overlap with heaven even as we are on this earth. This is the unseen reality. I can’t even begin to fully explain, but as you read this verse you know something big is going on beyond what we can see… this gives me permission to not understand this world because I know there is an unseen heavenly realm that is more real than this world. and God knows…
#5. I will walk forward in confidence. The person who doesn’t care doubts themselves. I am the worlds worst job candidate in an interview. I will tell you everything that’s wrong with me, sell myself short, desperately not wanting to promote myself. When I was in high school and a person was needed for a job on a farm, my father knew this about me and he’d tell me exactly what to say: just tell them with confidence, “I can drive a truck…” work hard… I think that’s all Paul is doing here in Eph. 3:12. READ.
For a few moments, let me be a cheerleader:
You can do far more than you imagine in Christ… there is a place for you. Walk in confidence. Listen to the spirit. Listen to the voice of God that is speaking to you and boldly go forward. In life, I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but there is no reverse gear… God only allows us to go forward, he compels us… we can’t relive yesterday. Now is the time to go forward, to put aside complacency and fear. God’s door is open, always open, for you to go to him in freedom and confidence. What an amazing invitation. Take the Lord Jesus Christ up on his open door policy and go to him. It’s risky, but there is no greater reward. Follow Christ with your heart. There is a world that needs you. The heavenlies are watching.
- Your roots go deep in Christ. Because of what he has done you are strong.
- You are small but God is BIG. This is why your focus cannot be on yourself, but focus on the Lord Jesus Christ, for that is where your strength lies.
- The message is simple, as you approach God, there is a simple acceptance, a simple understanding, get rid of the clutter of your mind and simply see the Lord.
- God almighty is blessed by you. You are wrong if you think you make no difference. God is blessed, the heavenly realms are blessed. God is paying attention. We so easily get discouraged and even apathetic, feeling like whatever we do makes no difference, but there is something bigger than our plans. Let go of what we think needs to be accomplished and know that God’s plans are going forward. This life is not just about us. There is a lot of struggle, but God has not abandoned us, he has not. He knows. He sees. And we are part of His Agenda. Our task may not be easy, but God is with us.
- I have deep roots.
- I am small but God is Big.
- God’s message is simple.
- My purpose transcends to the heavens.
- I will approach God in freedom and confidence. Amen.