Apathy: not caring about the things God created you to care about
*You can be a very passionate, driven person and still be eaten up with apathy where it matters most."
The word “neutral” sounds like it means, “having little to no effect on me” but this isn’t actually how life works—especially if you are a Christian. In Galatians 5, Paul shows us how life following Jesus actually works:
Galatians 5:16-17: But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
According to the Bible, when you become a Christian, you have two natures inside of you: the flesh and the Spirit. The flesh is that natural, selfish, sinful nature you were born with. The Spirit is God’s spirit that Jesus gives us to remind us that God is for us, not against us. Galatians 5:17 tells us that once you’re a Christian, the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit. When you become a Christian, not only do you have a new belief system, a new way of relating to God and others , and a new moral code, but you also get a new set of desires. At the deepest part of you, the Spirit will birth in you new desires that love God and want to trust and obey Him more than anything. Yes our desires will be at war, but the desires of the Spirit are what we really want now.
Believing and following Jesus is about letting God show you what is best in life and letting His Spirit grow new desires in you that want what is best.
Galatians 5:18-21: But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy,[a]drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do[b] such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
In these verses, Paul describes the kind of life that the flesh wants to pull us toward. The deeper you dig into this list, the more you realize how aptly it describes where human nature takes us apart from God. But in Christ, and filled with God’s Spirit, there’s a new life available:
Galatians 5:22-25: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
This is what human life looks like when it is led by God’s Spirit to put the flesh to death. This is the test Paul gives us for how we will know if we’re allowing the flesh to pull us or if we’re keeping in step with the Spirit.
So how, as Christians, should we think about all of the “neutral” items from the first chart? Biblically, the answer is: in light of the battle working between our flesh and the Spirit, nothing is neutral. All of the stuff that we think of as “neutral” must be reframed in a new category called “It depends.”
Because the flesh and Spirit are always at war, pulling us in different directions, there’s not a biblical category for stuff having no impact on us. Instead of “neutral,” the Bible would say it depends on:
- Why are you doing it?
- How much are you doing it?
- When are you doing it?
- What effect does it have on you?
For many of us, the majority of our daily habits and rhythms fall into the “it depends” category which seems completely harmless. This is the precise American recipe for an apathetic Christian life. Without even knowing it, we have filled our lives with morally justifiable things that don’t cultivate any real spiritual life in us.
The “Personal Liturgy” app this week is going to help us do some diagnosis of where we are spending our time. It is going to help us analyze our habits and realize where we might have been cultivating apathy without even realizing it. Be prepared to share with your LifeGroup this week as together we take a look at the “it depends” category in our lives.
To learn more about the “Personal Liturgy” app, check out this short video where one of our pastors, Brandon Clements, walks through how to use the app:
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