Wednesday, September 23, 2015
The curse of indifference. . .
“In religious matters, the modern world believes in indifference. Very simply, this means it has no great loves and no great hates; no causes worth living for and no causes worth dying for. It counts its virtues by the vices from which it abstains, asks that religion be easy and pleasant,…dislikes enthusiasm and loves benevolence, makes elegance the test of virtue and hygiene the test of morality, believes that one may be too religious but never too refined. It holds that no one ever loses his soul, except for some great and foul crime such as murder. Briefly, the indifference of the world includes no true fear of God, no fervent zeal for His honor, no deep hatred of sin, and no great concern for eternal salvation.”
Though we fear opposition and persecution for our beliefs, the bigger challenge facing the Christian Church is less the vocal enemies out to kill us or shut us up than the indifferent who just don't care. When Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk. 18:8), was the Lord referring to the possible triumph of His enemies or the indifference of His own? Most of the nones WERE Christians, or at least nominally so, but have shrugged off the few vestiges of the faith that were left. Likewise, the world is filled with people who once attended, albeit irregularly, but now do not bother at all. How many of those we write off the membership roles every year are people who were either barely catechized or not at all?
We have pretty much decided that God is weak and impotent and cannot say "no" to us or is so dependent upon us to keep Him alive that He will not say "no" to us. The great God of Abraham, Moses, and Elijah has become the tame, docile, and dependent deity who lives more in our imagination than in reality. Like the Greco-Roman gods who died only when they stopped being relevant to people, faith is more likely to die of neglect than heresy today.
Without the categories of sin and righteousness to frame our lives, we are left to the prison of our desires and to the shifting structure of our whims. Individuals and families all suffer the same lack of a foundation that does not slide with every poll or fad. We need to hear the Law. We need an anchor. We need to know the boundaries. Indifference is not generally the fruit of a rigorous and robust church life but the result of a casual and unconcerned attitude toward God, virtue, righteousness, and guilt.
People are ever afraid what will happen to the Church if she does not modernize, move with the times, adjust to fit the moment, and remodel her doctrine, values, and truth. We ought to fear what will happen if we do. Indifference is less the consequence of faithful law and gospel preaching and traditional liturgy than it is relevant sermons set in worship that entertains.
What a novelty it is in this world today when a church takes its confession seriously enough to hold pastor and people accountable for what they said the believed, confessed, and taught! Imagine that. People who believe what they say and say what they believe! Is there a reason why the first whom the Lord will chew up and spew from His mouth are the lukewarm? (Revelation 3:17)
We dare not be hateful, we cannot afford to be judgmental, and we should not be rude but we ought to be faithful and passionate enough about the faith to speak it in love, in season and out, when people want to hear it and when they can abide it no longer.