December 23, 2006

Lethargic No Longer

"Apathy is the glove into which evil slips its hand."

Mr. Williams grabbed another potato chip and leaned back in his lounge chair. "I heard that the US has been buying guillotines," he quipped. "Just goes to prove that this government is hopeless. And Christians still think that they can make a difference by voting!"

Mr. Barnes, sitting on another couch, smiled and took a carrot from a tray on the coffee table. It was a quiet Saturday afternoon, and the discussion had turned to politics. "The tribulation is bound to start any time", he agreed, "but instead of getting out of the world, Christians are trying to get back in and change everything! Such apostasy. This whole abortion thing is going to get America God's judgement, and we've got to get ourselves far removed. Say, did you hear about the concentration camps that Bush is building? Some friends of ours were out driving and actually saw one........."

I rolled my eyes and groaned inwardly, tired of complaining and conspiracy theories. Taking my plate, I hurried to the kitchen, passing my sister in the hall. She giggled at the look on my face, knowing that I would be sure to vent my frustrations in a long speech later that day.

The time came soon enough. After arriving home from the visit, I followed my sister to her room and plopped down on the bed. "I can't believe it!" I exclaimed. "They are forever complaining about everything, and they never do anything! If they aren't going to help, they don't have a right to whine about politics. What do they expect, when government is made up of fallible human beings? After all, 'The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing!' "

My sister looked at me and laughed, in the provoking way that little sisters do. "So what are you going to do?"

What am I going to do? I'm not an apathetic person, but I don't always want to be proactive about everything. I complain, too, especially about indifferent people who complain. The temptation to hold one's self aloof and grumble at everyone else can be very strong.

Yet I am disgusted with apathy. I hate the apathy that I see in the people around me, but I hate it even more in myself. I feel nauseated at the part of me that wants to take the easy route, the part that prefers a diplomatic solution when such a thing is not possible. As I have been reading the Biblical prophets lately, I have noticed a characteristic of God that eluded me before. He is obsessed with justice. He is passionately opposed to evil, and He uses the strongest of language to express that revulsion. As emissaries of God, can we do any less? How can we calmly discuss such modern atrocities as abortion and genocide without feeling a moral compulsion to go out and do something?

I used to wonder why every election was always said to be so pivotal. Every two years, one was liable to get the impression that the world was going to go down the drain unless so-and-so was elected. Every two years, politicians portrayed America as being on the brink of disaster, but then, until the next election, everything was pretty much fine. Suddenly, though, it was election time again, and this was our country's most crucial election year!

I think I understand now. Politicians, of course, are not above a bit of exaggeration, but as Ronald Reagan said, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on to them to do the same." We often tend to sit back and admire the frontiers that the previous generation has conquered for us, while forgetting that there are those in every generation who would like nothing more than to reclaim those frontiers for the other side. We are in a never-ending battle, and the option of passiveness must never be open.

It has been said that getting an idea should be like sitting on a pin; it should make you get up and do something. Similarly, our beliefs propel us to action. As Christians, we are not called to pontificate; we are called to act. "...I will show you my faith by my works." James 2:18b

James makes another point in the same chapter that is well worth consideration. "You believe that God is one" he says; "You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder." It's as though he was saying to us today, "You believe in God? That's nice. Even Satan does that. Now try doing something about it!"

Perhaps Isaac Watts was thinking along the same lines when he penned his famous hymn, "Am I a Soldier of the Cross?"
"Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His Name?

Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?

Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word......."

"Why do I tend to think myself immune from difficulties?" he asks. "Why do I see myself as detached from the spiritual war that other Christians fight? What gives me the right to live in luxury while others give their lives for the sake of the gospel?"

A few weeks ago, I was in Israel, and while there, we visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial museum. As I was touring the exhibits, meditating soberly on the apathy displayed by European Christians in those dark days, my eyes were drawn to a display on Hitler's extermination camps for mentally ill persons. I read on half-heartedly, until I noticed suddenly that the camps in one particular area had been shut down permanently. Hitler?? Shut down an entire project? Why? I read eagerly on, then stepped back in surprise when the answer was revealed. Because the churches protested!

Perhaps I should have breathed a sigh of relief. The German Christians weren't so apathetic after all!

But I was horrified. The churches protested? The churches protested, and Hitler shut down the entire program as a result? Through my tears, I saw a pile of children's shoes nearby, their owners exterminated in the Holocaust. I saw the emaciated bodies in the photographs, and in my imagination, I heard the screams of the 6,000,000 innocents who perished. "Why didn't they protest this?? If they were brave enough to challenge Hitler, why did they stop with the victims who were mentally ill? What were they thinking? Could their combined outcry have possibly moved Hitler to end other programs as well?Why did they stop with that??"

In the same way, we face evil today in the 21st century, evil that we must confront. Future generations will look back at us, just as we look back at the Christians during WW II. Youth Evangelist Ron Luce addressed this issue at the Values Voters Summit in September. He reminded his listeners that when people look back at our generation, they will ask "Where were the Christians?" We must be the ones in our generation, he said, who will take the initiative and say "No! Enough of this! The train will not run off the tracks on my watch!" For once the train is off the tracks, it will be off for a long time.

We in the 21st century must not let that happen. We must determine that we will not leave society untouched without making a mark for righteousness. We must not go to our graves without making an impact for Christ, in every area of society. Otherwise, what will we have to say for ourselves, when we stand before the judgement seat of Christ?

It has been said that there are 3 kinds of people in this world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who have no idea what is happening. Unfortunately, there are far too many of these last two groups, while those in the former are all too rare.

But I believe, therefore I do. I think, and then I act. I find it impossible to stand on the sidelines while evil reigns unhindered in the arena, to look the other way when it is in my power to do something about the problem. Society has enough lethargic members, and I refuse to join their number. No one will ever say that I stood by and did nothing. I may be accused of many things, but never of apathy. I will use my influence for good in every sector of society. Winning or losing, I will stand for the right, regardless of the cost. Friends, this is a time for action!

First published at

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