C.S. Lewis describes his conversion to Christianity in his autobiographical work “Surprised by Joy.” This title is such a fitting summary of one’s journey towards Christ. Unfortunately such joy can be difficult to maintain. We can often become sidetracked, distracted, lazy and comfortable in our spiritual lives. Perhaps an appropriate title for this process could be “Amazed by Apathy.” Sometimes we can feel like our fight against depravity is a losing battle.
The Apostle Paul on the Amazing Power of Apathy:
21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. (Romans 7:21-25)
Depravity stinks. There are few things more depressing than contemplating the depth of one’s own depravity. No one has to convince me of this doctrine. I think I might be close to earning a Ph.D. in it. While scholars debate over the nature of Paul’s lament in Romans 7, I really don’t think a seminary degree is necessary in order to identify with the Apostle’s struggle. Every believer should understand and wrestle with the tension of being a redeemed saint living in a sinful body – in the midst of a sinful world.
Sometimes I am amazed, however, at how difficult it is for my heart to fully grasp the things of the Lord. It is often so easy to intellectually understand something, to agree with it, and to fully believe it. It is the living it out part that is difficult. I read certain authors like Francis Chan, John Owen, Thomas Watson, John Piper, and others and I long for the passion they have. There is a desire deep within me calling out to be completely and wholly devoted to God’s ways and to His work. At the same time there is an obstinate and powerful opposition that persistently pushes back against a passion for God’s glory. It’s amazing how powerful apathy can be.
A.W. Tozer provides a helpful description of the obstacle of apathy in the life of the believer:
“I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe to spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain.”
Apathy is an interesting word. It simply means a lack of passion. If you are prone to apathy – maybe this is a good prayer for us both to pray as we enter this day:
“Dear God. I’m amazed by your power and your beauty. Please work within me today, through your spirit, to mortify my sinful desires that war against your ways. Help me to grow in my love for you today. Enliven a passion for your fame within my heart. Make my single focus to be your renown in the earth. Help my passion for your praise move me towards personal holiness. May a desire to bring you glory grip my heart and propel me into the world with a renewed sense of mission. May the world know your glory through my life today. May my light so shine before men that they might see my good deeds and glorify you.”