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Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Indifference – The Great Destroyer

Indifference refers to an attitude held by a person indicating a lack of zeal, commitment, and concern regarding whatever that individual is indifferent toward. 

I do not know of anything a person can succeed at long term with indifference dominating him or her.  Natural talent will only take a person so far.  There comes a time when to succeed you have to buckle down, get serious, and do the work.  This is true of the great athletes of the world, the great musicians, of people who are highly successful in their fields, and even the Einsteins of the world, and so how much more so of you and me? 

Of course, we are talking here about the significant things in life, things that matter and make a difference.  If you want to get a degree or degrees, a good education, if you want to have a successful marriage, if you want to succeed in your job or vocation, and if you want to go to heaven.  Yes, and if you want to go to heaven.

We are living in a time of a great falling away from spiritual matters, from Christianity.   The percentage of what are called the “Nones” continues to grow.  “Nones” are those who have abandoned faith in any kind of religion.  More and more people are coming to the decision that they do not need God in their life and they are not searching for him. 

From an article on the website published Aug. 5, 2019, I quote the title of an article found there, “‘Nones’ now as big as evangelicals, Catholics in the US.”  The article itself was dated March 21, 2019, but put online August 5th.  It may or may not be online by the time you read this and the numbers will no doubt change with time becoming more or less but that has been and remains the trend over the past several years.  

Most churches I know about living as I do in the rural Midwest have declined drastically in membership over the last 50 years, some having closed their doors and others are on the verge of doing so.  People have lost interest in Christianity which is another way of saying they have become indifferent.  They are not seeking and thus they shall not find.  “Seek, and you will find.” (Matt. 7:7 NKJV)

If God and his word are matters of no serious concern to me, if God is only going to make my top 100 list of the most important things to me in my life, if he gets that high, then realistically what kind of hope do I have of salvation, of going to heaven?  To be indifferent is to not care.  If you do not care about God, about his will, about going to heaven, if you are disinterested in living a Christian life what joy do you bring to God?  You bring grief and sorrow like Israel and Judah in the Old Testament before they went into exile but joy, no.      

But, there is a lot of indifference abounding in many who proclaim Christianity.  It is not just the “Nones.”  A lot has been made of the fact that salvation from sin is a free gift from God.  This while true is seldom understood properly because seldom taught properly.  People have gotten it into their heads that their soul's salvation is solely dependent on God.  This lends itself to indifference.  There is nothing for me to do if God is going to do it all.  No need to seek God, from their point of few, despite the fact he says in his word, "He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him." (Heb. 11:6 NKJV)

The idea people seem to have is there is no need to study the Bible; God is love; God is grace; God is going to save everyone no matter what he or she believes or practices just as long as the person believes that Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of the world and that belief can be held in the most abstract sort of way divorced from all action and commitment.  Put another way you can be indifferent and go to heaven. 

Attend services wherever you so desire, no matter what they teach or practice, or don't even attend anywhere if you don't want to.  It will make no difference just as long as you believe in Jesus.  That is generally the Christian (?) world we live in here in America today.  False teaching along this line has led to a lot of the indifference we see.

Indifference is one natural byproduct of denominationalism.  If it really does not matter what you believe or practice just so you believe in Jesus then certainly one can be indifferent about both doctrine and practice.  What difference does it make about either if we are all going to be saved anyway?  I thus see people who think they are going to be saved who never worship.  If they have a Bible they would have to hunt it before they could read it and then dust it off for it has sat that long unread and unused.  They never read it.

The scariest thing for me when it comes to one's loved ones having indifference towards God and salvation, toward spiritual matters, is that indifference is one of those types of sins that is nearly impossible to get people to see and thus to own up to and repent of.  They do not see themselves as being indifferent but are satisfied they are doing all that is necessary for salvation, even though it is nothing, and will be saved as they are.  Nothing is necessary for salvation for God will take care of it all is the thought.  This is a perversion of Eph. 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (NKJV) 

The modern-day exegesis of this passage is that man has absolutely no obligations in any way toward God.  There is no need to read his word, there is no need to worship, there is no need to obey any of the commandments.  Just show up at Judgment Day and all will be fine.  Heb. 5:9 thus becomes meaningless, “And having been perfected, he became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him.” (Hebrews 5:9 NKJV)

Indifference is accompanied by satisfaction.  The satisfied do not repent.  The satisfied does not seek, knock, or search in any way for anything other than what satisfied already has for satisfied is satisfied.  It becomes, as a result of that, nearly impossible to get people who fit into that state of mind to a mindset of repentance.  They are not interested in studying or searching the scriptures for they are indifferent and content. 

What does the Bible say or teach about indifference? 

One of the first passages that comes to mind is Rev. 3:15-16 where Jesus is directing a message to the members of the church at Laodicea and says, "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth." (Rev. 3:15-16 NKJV)

Jesus is talking to Christians here.  Does it sound like they are in a saved state?  If you will read one verse further (verse 17) Jesus goes on explaining, "Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing.'" (Rev. 3:17 NKJV)  They were perfectly satisfied.  Please note carefully the words from this passage, "have need of nothing" expressing their satisfaction.   They were indifferent toward doing anything other than what they were doing.

"If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15 NKJV)  Can one go to heaven who does not love God?  “If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed.” (1 Cor. 16:22 NKJV)  How do you keep the commandments if you are indifferent?  Is love indifferent?  Is love uncommitted? 

In another statement, Jesus said, "Whoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:27 NKJV)  What kind of cross does the indifferent person bear for Christ?  Can such a person be a disciple of Jesus?  What does the text say? 

In the Old Testament God said with respect to the people of Israel through the prophet Hosea, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." (Hosea 4:6 NKJV)  If it happened to them could it not happen to people today?  The indifferent cannot gain knowledge of God for the attitude of indifference creates no desire to seek and learn.  Mr. Indifference is also Mr. Satisfied with the way things are and with what little knowledge he already has.

Jesus said, "Seek, and you will find," (Matt. 7:7 NKJV) but one's indifference keeps him from seeking and thus from finding.  We are to "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness" (Matt. 6:33 NKJV) but the indifferent have no will to seek let alone seek first.

The Bible teaches the love of God, or love for God, is keeping his commandments.  "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments." (1 John 5:3 NKJV)  Jesus said, "He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me." (John 14:21 NKJV)  "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word." (John 14:23 NKJV)  "He who does not love me does not keep my words." (John 14:24 NKJV)

The indifferent cannot do that.  Why?  Because he/she is too indifferent to read, study, and learn the word that Jesus would have them keep.  They are satisfied with what they have.  They will never wear a Bible out from use.  They do not know the truth from study of the truth.  What they know is only what they have heard which may or may not be the truth and what they believe is that which has satisfied them whether it be truth or error (they know not the difference).

Many are going to die eternally simply because they did not care enough to be saved.  Jesus taught a great deal about the idea of being ready, of making preparation, for his return and the Day of Judgment.  The parable of the ten virgins comes immediately to mind.  Another passage that comes to mind is found in Matt. 22:11, the account of the man who came into the wedding unprepared and as a result was cast out. 

The indifferent, due to that indifference, are negligent and do not prepare and consequently, unless they can be brought to a change of heart cannot be saved.  They live in a continual state of unpreparedness.

Indifference is a symptom of a spiritually diseased heart.  The heart is not where it ought to be as it is concentrated on the self and this world.  It is full of pride; I'm okay; I don't need any more religion than I have.  It is presumptuous and assumes God will save me as I am.  It is rebellious against God (we will do it my way).

The question becomes, for those of us who care about people we fear may be in this state, is what can we do about it?  Here I must stop.  I cannot write any more for how does one answer this question?  If a person is indifferent, satisfied, does not care, then how do you get them to care?  This is why this is one of the most fearful sins a person will ever run up against.  How do you get a person to care that does not care?  How do you move a satisfied person into a state of dissatisfaction where he can repent?

If a person has committed a sexually immoral sin or sins of many other kinds, sinful acts versus sinful attitudes, he/she probably knows what they did was wrong and feels some pang of guilt.  There is hope there.  You can get a person like that to repent but how do you get the indifferent, those who do not care, to repent?  It is your turn now to write the next article and tell me the answer.   

(Originally written July 11, 2011)

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