Apathy

An enterprising service station owner posted the following sign on the front door of his station:

Why Customers Quit

1% die

3% move away

5% other friendships

9% competitive reasons (price) 

14% product dissatisfaction

But...

68% quit because of an attitude of indifference toward them by some employee!

Indifference not only is a blight to a service oriented business, it is the ruination of the church. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God said, “Cursed is he who does the work of the LORD deceitfully, And cursed is he who keeps back his sword from blood” (Jer. 48:10). The Hebrew word for deceitfully means, among other things, remissness. It describe idle, slack, slothful dispositions toward God’s work.

There is a quantum body of evidence indicating that we are indifferent about apathy in the church. While I cannot endorse the method, the following story illustrates a good point. It is said that one Sunday, a minister began his sermon: “I’d like to make three points today. First, there are millions of people around the world who are going to hell. Second, most of us sitting here today do not care give a _____ about it.” After a lengthy pause he continued: “My third point is that you are more concerned that I, your preacher, used a common curse word than you are about the millions of people going to hell.” Having undivided attention, he proceeded to preach an excellent sermon on putting faith into action. Which would be the most disturbing to you?

C.S. Lewis, in The Screwtape Letters relates a fictional scene in which the devil instructed his nephew, Wormwood, on tempting people. Wickedness to Satan was not as effective as indifference. Old “Scratch” cautioned Wormwood to keep a person cozy and snug above everything. Should the person become concerned about anything of importance, Wormwood should urge him to think about plans for lunch. He should not worry about indigestion. Then came the climax of the instruction. Satan says, “I, the devil, will always see to it that there are bad people. Your job, my dear Wormwood, is to provide me with the people who do not care.” The devil has been far too successful among us.

It is easy to get used to indifference. That’s why we become apathetic to it. I read of a newly hired young preacher standing at the window of his study, crying. He was looking out at a scene of busy people scurrying here and there. He saw dope peddlers; prostitutes; junkies, panhandlers, and thieves. One of the members came near, gently placed a hand on his shoulder and said, “Don’t worry. After you’ve been here a while, you’ll get used to it.” Responded the minister, “Yes, I know. That’s why I am crying.”

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