Apathy is rampant among Christians these days.
It's an old question: What's the opposite of love? Most people would answer "hate," but the true answer is Apathy. And apathy is a very real problem among Christians these days.
Recently I pulled into the drive through line to buy dinner for my family. I evidently angered the driver of a red truck when I took "too long" to order - or some other perceived slight. It was evident he was mad, because he rolled down his window and called me a name I won't repeat here. I had a choice: I could respond in kind or in love. So...I paid for his order. He pulled up and stared, and I just smiled and waved. Then I remembered I had prayed for an opportunity to demonstrate agape just that morning.
I'm not saying this to brag. Instead, I want you to remember the definition of agape, our first fruit of the Spirit: unconditional love that only wants the best for others. It is not based on how it is treated.
A Road Map for Love
Last time, we explored agape love. You can read about that here. We were given a clear and detailed description for what agape looks like in 1 Corinthians 13. In this famous "Love Chapter," we see how true agape works. And - if we are honest - we may see ways we still fall short. Luckily, we need only pray and ask the Holy Spirit to grow God's love within us in the following ways:
Dealing with Others:
- Be patient (being in a position to avenge yourself, but choosing not to). I know you've heard it's dangerous to pray for patience because God develops it by putting you in situations that require it. But there is always significance when something is put at the front of a list. Apathy leads to irritation, not patience.
- Be Kind (volunteering to help; showing that you are useful). Volunteering means you take on something else besides what you planned to do. Why is it that 20% of Christians in churches do 80% of the work? Look around, and you'll see the same people volunteering over and over again.
- Be Respectful [Not rude] (avoiding ugly, indecent, unseemly or unbecoming actions). Have you ever seen a Christian being rude? Sadly, I have. Too often. As Children of the King, we should act more like our Father.
- Be Focused on Others [Not self-seeking]. Self-Seeking is the polar opposite of agape.
- Be Calm [Not easily-angered]. "God is slow to anger and rich in love." Psalm 145:8 He's our Divine Model, and it's His Spirit within us that can grow this in us as we grow in agape. Yet, apathy and anger are common companions.
- Be Merciful [No record of wrongs]. God didn't give us what we deserve. He gave me such amazing mercy, how can I not spread that to others?
In Your Head
- Be Content [Not envious] (to not be jealous). Jealousy has no place in Christian life. God gives us what we need. Envy often comes about because people are sitting around watching others at work.
- Be Humble [Not boastful] (to not brag). The only boasting we should do is to boast in God and all HE has done. (1 Cor. 1:31) Let someone else toot your horn. When you do it yourself, it can lead to pride - which brings me to #5...
- Be Modest [Not proud]. So many scriptures outline the negative results of pride. This is such a sneaky way many Christians miss out on opportunities to show true agape love. But, those with apathy aren't really focused on agape, are they?
Big Picture Items
- Be Vigilant [Not rejoicing in evil]. The enemy is sneaky. He finds ways to lure Christians into sin. Anything to derail us from doing Kingdom work. We must know the enemy and his tactics. Apathy in this leads to destruction!
- Be Joyful in Truth. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Rejoice in that!
- Protect (A blanket of agape to cover over in silence). Not just protection from physical harm. This is one of the enemy's foulest tricks: Gossip! Those Christians who revel in the problems of others and putting themselves in a better light don't care about showing love. Churches are a breeding ground for gossip. I've seen it. I've shut it down in my own home by calling it what it is. Take a stand in agape.
- Trust (to have faith in someone). It's so much easier to trust someone you love. And this is all cumulative, so if you've been merciful and forgiven someone's wrongs, then it's easier to trust them.
Looking to the Future
- Hope (to expect the best from others). For 2019, my word of the year was HOPE. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. Agape within me gives me HOPE.
- Persevere (continue in relationships without discouragement). Keep on keeping on. Apathy won't do this. Apathy throws in the towel.
- Make a difference [Never fails]. Real agape love ALWAYS makes a difference.
That's the key: Make a difference.
In everything you do today, make a difference.
Father God, grow in us a true and steadfast agape that demonstrates all these characteristics. Show us where we are falling short, and where we've become apathetic. Thank You for Your Love for us.