is unconcern. It is an individual matter, but churches become
indifferent to the extent that the people which comprise them
are indifferent. It is likely the most common malady among
local congregations today. It may be found in every section of
the country and in every size congregation. Personally, it
pervades the lives of the most spiritually intelligent people
just as it does those who have little knowledge of the
Scriptures. It is subtle, gradual, and many times,
imperceptible. It moves slowly and without fanfare and is thus
hard to diagnose, even for the most sagacious person.
The conquering of indifference can be done perhaps more
effectively by preventative measures than by diagnostic ones.
The measures for the prevention of indifference are so obvious
as to almost seem simplistic. But we must begin with these or
we are apt to fool ourselves into thinking we are active when
we are, in fact, indifferent. Make no mistake about it, there
is no time to lose, for this most pervasive of all spiritual
maladies is most assuredly at work.
1. There must be a stronger tendency toward Bible study.
Indifference has a hard time making much progress in a life
that is duly influenced by regular exposure to biblical
instruction. Bible study is hard, no doubt about it. It takes
work, concentration, planning, perseverance. No wonder Paul
calls the one who does it a "workman" (2 Timothy
2:15). He says one must "handle aright" the word of
truth; it takes a workman to do that. Handling calls for
concentration. "Cutting along a straight line" is
the idiom in the original language. Cutting is hard work, no
matter if it's cutting meat, cutting material, cutting the
grass, or appropriating the word of God to one's life. You
have to try hard.
And there is no such thing as "corporate study" (it
is not so that because there is studying going on, you have
studied); but there is such a thing as "corporate
knowledge," or the whole of what each person knows,
viewed together. Such corporate education is necessary for
strong churches. And to whatever extent it does not exist, to
that same extent the local congregation suffers indifference,
sometimes even moral decay.
2. There must be a greater devotion of worship, both public
and private. Worship illustrates commitment. It is
unthinkable that a person who meditates about God and His word
and is seeking to apply it to his life would be derelict in
worship. And yet, we see people who affirm their faith in
Christ who are indifferent to such opportunities. You may rest
assured that when people are sporadic in attending public
worship services, there is an amount of indifference in their
Nor does the mere fact that we attend the public assemblies
declare how much private worship we do. What seems to be
worship may be an empty ritual, one designed to walk through
the various exercises in order to keep down some controversy
or maintain family tradition. But true worship is a great
combatant against indifference.
Notice, I said true worship. Worship, public or private, must
have the right elements (see John 4:23-24),
or be "in spirit and in truth." No worship can ever
be proper without the right attitude; nor can it be proper
when truth is not present. Otherwise, the worshipper has no
idea if he is pleasing God. The truest worship you can give
begins when you present yourself to God (Romans 12:1-2).
Both private and public worship depends on first giving
yourself. It means nothing if it starts some other place.
3. We must have a genuine concern for one another. We
can do much to combat indifference-both
in ourselves and in others-by
mutual exhortation. Hebrews 10:23-25
recommends that we exhort one another to greater faithfulness.
Sure, there is a risk involved; do it anyhow. If someone were
headed toward some sure disaster, you certainly would ignore
the risk and warn them, would you not? Hebrews 3:12-14
tells us we should do it "while it is today,"
indicating that we sense the urgency in the situation. There
may be no other opportunity.
gives an abundance of information which, if implemented, would
do much to combat indifference. Among other things, it
requires that we not think too highly of ourselves (verse 3);
that we each do what we have the gift to do (verses 4-8);
that our love be pure, not feigned (9); that we be family
affectioned toward one another (10); not flagging in our
energetic pursuit of that which is right (11); keeping hope
alive for one another, forbearing one another and urgent in
our remembrance of one another in prayer (12); benevolent to
those who need us, hospitable to each other (13); involved
with one another (15); same-minded,
always descending to the level of those lower than we are
(16); and handling disagreements with care, considering God in
all we do (17-21).
If these few things were put into service, indifference would
suffer a serious blow.
Let's get going again. Let's get ourselves up and begin again
to do what we know is right. Let's rid ourselves of the
deterrents to our faithfulness, charge ourselves with our own
responsibilities, fuel ourselves with a love for God and for
our brothers and sisters in Christ.