Over the last three weeks, we’ve been examining how apathy is one of the biggest obstacles in our lives that keeps us from living the abundant life that God offers us. We hope that the sermons and “Personal Liturgy” journal challenges have been helpful in making you aware of where apathy may be stealing your joy as you begin to take steps to shift habits and practices from the “it depends” category of life to the “Spirit” category. If you’d like to dig deeper, here are a few resources specifically related to Apathy that we’d recommend.
Book: Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren
Framed around one ordinary day, this book explores daily life through the lens of liturgy, small practices, and habits that form us. Warren sets out to show that every area of our lives is designed for communion and engagement with God.
Book: A Theology of the Ordinary by Julie Canlis
This short booklet is comprised of three lectures that Canlis first presented to Whitworth University’s Academy of Christian Discipleship. After returning to America, Canlis was struck by how much emphasis many American Christians placed on being “radical” or “extraordinary” for God. In her lectures, Canlis meditates on the goodness (and challenge) of living our “normal” lives for God.
Sermon: “What’s Killing Me: Apathy”
In 2015, Midtown went through a series called “What’s Killing Me” which looked at the internal hang-ups and frustrations that most often steal our joy and ensnare us; we then examined how the good news of Jesus frees us from each one.
An e-book was created to go along with this series and we’d recommend checking out the “Priorities Worksheet” and “Apathy Inventory” found on pages 28-29. There’s also a page of LifeGroup discussion questions that you could work through on your own (or with a friend) after listening to the sermon.
Sermon: “Proverbs: Wisdom and Sloth”
As part of our “Proverbs” series last May, we examined the characteristics of the sluggard and how his life is in direct contradiction to the life God has intended for us to live. As we’ve dug into how apathy prevents us from caring about the things God calls us to care about, we feel this sermon may be worth a re-listen as you reflect on where you are tempted to fill your life with “mindless consumption.” Perhaps the sermon will expose some “weights” in your life that you need to lay aside. You can check out the study guide questions as well if you’d like to dig a little deeper after listening to the sermon.
Article: 12 Powerful Habits by Thomas Laurinavicius
This is a non-Christian response to the problem of apathy. In a roundabout way it describes that the things we do do things to us. Laurinavicius gives his best practices for structuring his life to fight agaight drift and apathy. While we would not wholly endorse everything in the article, you may find some helpful practical tips that you can apply to your life.
Quote: “Shepherding Your Desires” by Skye Jethani
This is a quote from a daily email devotional called “With God” by Skye Jethani.
Our consumer society has done a remarkable thing. It has convinced us that our desires are immutable and undeniable; that we are defined by longings and are powerless to change or resist them. With some desires this is true. I cannot deny my desire for oxygen—it is hardwired into my brain, but my craving for sugar is a physical and psychological desire that can be heightened or diminished. Our culture and the economic powers that propel it, however, want us to believe that every desire is hardwired; that we are mere victims of our appetites.
This is important for those who are apathetic toward God. If we have bought into the culture’s message, then we are left hopelessly adrift lamenting our disinterest in God and wishing we could be more “spiritual.” In this condition, the most we can hope for is some divine intervention, a lightning bolt to strike us and awaken a desire for Christ that we are powerless to stir ourselves.
The truth is, we have far more influence over many of our desires than we want to believe. We can choose to feed or starve them; to awaken or sedate them. When I remove sweets from my diet and eat more protein my craving for sugar diminishes. Likewise, I am more motivated to exercise when I’m part of a community committed to fitness. Learning to control appetites, delay gratification, and acquire new desires is precisely what allows children to mature into adults. We all possess this ability, we’ve just forgotten.
The same applies to our life with God. If you are not motivated to seek him in this season, consider what might awaken this desire. What practices can you add to your life? Which do you need to remove? Is there a community that possesses the qualities you want for yourself? Or consider reading the Gospels again and praying that the Holy Spirit would help you see Jesus more clearly and learn to desire him anew.