There are few things a Christian should fear any more than spiritual apathy. Every Christian pastor, shepherd, mentor, leader should fear it creeping into those they lead and influence but most importantly fear it silently moving into their own lives. Each follower of Jesus Christ most diligently seek to have a burning passion for the Lord and His purposes.
We must prevail over the natural bend of our natures of becoming apathetic in our passions for the Lord. One help in this is to be on the lookout for this dreaded sickness in our lives that if left unchecked in our lives will lead to lukewarmness toward or Lord. Once lukewarmness has taken over then it is a fast downward spiral casual, carnal and careless living bringing disastrous results in the life of God's children.
There are always signs of and steps to Spiritual Decline! So we must recognize and diagnose apathy before it’s too late? Below are symptoms of spiritual apathy in the individual believer and corporate church. Things to be on the LOOKOUT for in our lives and other followers of Christ.
1. LACK OF INTEREST IN ATTENDING CHURCH !
When there is a slacking of attendance, there is also a slacking in hunger for the preached Word of God. Understandably , there are times when things make it difficult to assemble. Vacations, sickness other factors. But when a forsaking attendance at church or studies becomes the trend rather than an exception, there is cause for spiritual concern on the part of a christian and spiritual shepherds of God's sheep.
2. LACK OF CONCERN FOR LOST PEOPLE !
When times of outreach are attended less and less, there is a spiritual disconnect between what we say we believe (that the Great Commission is our great priority) and how we act on that belief. All of us followers of Jesus Christ must regularly stop and evaluate our personal and corporate participation's in sharing the Good New's. And if we find ourselves sharing very little and perhaps NEVER then we must concern ourselves with such. It is time to passionately pray and ask the Lord to send us a revival of Himself and His purposes in our soul.
3. LACK OF DESIRE TO READ AND STUDY GODS WORD !
This is a very telling truth in our lives. If we pause and look at our schedules and desires and do not find times when we are opening God's Book of Truth we are in great need of passion for Him. The Bible is God and we need God. We need to run to God not run away. And make no mistake when we are not seeking God in His Word we are running away from God not running toward God. Apathy will rule our lives and lead us to living messed up lives. Messed up marriages, messed up children, messed up finances, messed up priorities, messed up health, messed up emotions, messed up everything's.
4. LACK OF PERSONAL AND CONGREGATIONAL WORSHIP!
The Bible commands us worship God with all our hearts. When a christian finds themselves never praising and never singing, it is a signal that passion for God is lacking and apathy is setting in. When Christian's come to church with a heart of praise, the opportunity to sing is welcome. We will not be able to help ourselves from sharing praise to others concerning who our Lord is and what He has done. Personally and corporately we will cease complaint and continue in praise. When we come to church distracted and bored it is a sign we are passionate about the things of the world more and the things of God less. When our singing is near nothing it reflects apathetic hearts but when we sing out with all our hearts it reflects the inward love we have for our Lord and His kingdom causes. The inside conditions will always be revealed by the outside manifestations.
5. LACK OF CONCERNS FOR THE NEEDS OF OTHERS!
Passionate and mature believers are concerned Christians. Scripture commands us to bear one an others burdens. When we don’t have burdens enough to seek to know what our brothers, sisters and all other peoples around us are going through, we’re slipping into self-focused apathy for sure. Apathy always leads to selfishness. We must regularly stop and examine ourselves to see if we are more SELF FOCUSED than OTHERS FOCUSED! Who do we think about most? Who do we pray for most? Who do we serve most? Who do we care for most? Is their any percent of our focus spent on others? If so how much? When is the last time I served widow/widower? When is the last time I sent a card of encouragement to a pastor/teacher/mentor. When was the last time we stopped to visit a shut in? When was the last time we helped in the nursery? When was the last time we stopped to speak to a child in church or the neighborhood? When was the last time you attended a funeral or a viewing? What is our focus?
6. LACK OF TIME SPENT IN PRAYER!
When we find that time spent in prayer has become something we find not so important the red flags should go up all over our souls. Prayer is a spiritual life sustaining resource. We can never live a passion filled life for our Lord without talking to Him, without spending time with Him in prayer. Prayer is where we are filled with Christ's person passion, power, purposes, and priorities. It is where we hear his voice and where we see His directions. Prayer is a must for followers of Christ to find passion for indifference. When we find ourselves praying individually and corporately very little we are already on the road to apathy and lukewarmness and strong doses of prayer is what is needed to to exit the present road which is headed for disaster and enter the roadways that will lead to blessing and passion for the ONE who died for us!
7. LACKING CONCERN FOR WORLD MISSIONS!
When a church becomes inward focused, they are no longer concerned for the fields white unto harvest. They lose their sense of eternal realities and of spiritual responsibility to reach the world with the gospel. We just came through Missions Conference 2015 and it was thrilling to hear our guest missionaries report and challenge us for world missions. It was just as thrilling for them to see the great dedication of hundreds of our church members who believe and are passionate about God's Great Commission. My pastors heart was blessed to see the heartbeat of so many in our church who great purpose and priority was the same as Jesus'. But at the same time it was a stark reality to this pastor that some of our flock have lost their passion for the greatest cause on earth. Other pursuits seemed more important and led many to pursue temporal things rather then eternal. We must regularly stop and ask ourselves how am I doing in my heart with God's Great Commission?
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:—Revelation 3:15–17
This passage has always been a WAKE UP CALL to every Christian including Pastors like myself. It is so easy to become apathetic and lukewarm. We must notice that it is Christ Himself who is making this WARNING! We must realize it was not a warning against wicked immorality or false teaching. It was a warning against lukewarm apathy in the life of true believers born out of pride and disobedience in seeking God with all our hearts. We must work diligently and regularly in WATCHING for the signals of apathetic lukewarmness in our lives and resist it and repent of it when it shows up. We must seek early detection's!
Terry has been the Senior Pastor of Liberty for 30 years. He and his wife, Karen, have 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and 1 spoiled dog named Cooper.