Posts Tagged ‘Spiritual Apathy’

“Lord, hear my prayer!  Listen to my plea! Don’t turn away from me in my time of distress.  Bend down to listen, and answer me quickly when I call to you.  For my days disappear like smoke, and my bones burn like red-hot coals.  My heart is sick, withered like grass, and I have lost my appetite. Because of my groaning, I am reduced to skin and bones.  I am like an owl in the desert, like a little owl in a far-off wilderness.  I like awake, lonely as a solitary bird on the roof.” (Psalm 102:1-7)

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16)

“But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem.  He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.” (Daniel 6:10)

But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private.  Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”  (Matthew 6:6)

Then Jesus said, ‘Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.’ He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.” (Mark 6:31-32)

The Holy Scriptures share with us a valuable habit of our Lord Jesus Christ: He often withdrew into solitude.

The importance of the fact that He “often withdrew” into solitude should not be lost on the Christian; we should take note that in order to withdraw into solitude, Christ did not live in solitude.  He lived an engaged life with others, interacting with them, socializing with them.  He placed an importance on His time with people and spent the majority of His time serving them, teaching them, healing them, speaking with them, eating and drinking with them and surrounding Himself with them.  Because of this, He needed to rest and re-energize and did so by retreating to “lonely places”, “the wilderness”, “to solitary places”, to be alone with God.

Scripture greatly encourages time alone with God, giving example after example of righteous people deliberately and purposefully withdrawing into “places” of isolation for their time alone with God.  In those places, they are able to rest, relax their soul, their mind and their body.  It is in these places, in private, that they find their spiritual oasis they dip into for renewal.

Solitude is a place of reflection.  Reflection cannot successfully happen apart from solitude.

Scripture shows us that Jesus withdrew into solitary places to be alone when He received news about the death of John the Baptist and after performing the miracle of feeding 5,000 people (Matthew 14), when He was in distress just before His crucifixion (Luke 22), and before making the major decision of which disciples He would choose as His apostles.  Jesus was often even “alone” with his disciples, so we see that group solitude also has its benefits.

So the Christian is called to be a social creature.  We are not to live our lives in isolation, for what fruit do we bear there?  How can we fulfill our calling to spread the Good News of Christ Jesus if we are not interacting with others?  Our very lives should be as lamps set up to light the darkness; we should not put our lit lamps under baskets, as Jesus illustrated so eloquently in His parable: “No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket.  Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house.” (Luke 11:33)

Discernment is required here to achieve balance. The calling to be social is not a calling to be a busybody.  We are not called to fill our days with so much activity and toiling that we lose our focus and become distracted and fatigued.  Some of us are extroverts; some are introverts or ambiverts.  We are not all called to approach the mission of spreading the Gospel the same way. But we ARE all called to approach the mission with deliberate purpose and thought.

If any of us are living our lives in a state of isolation, void of human contact, we should take heed.  Technology advances are actively making it so easy to get through a day without any real human contact.  Posting and scrolling through social media and “liking” and commenting on posts is no replacement for looking into someone’s eyes or hearing their voice as you communicate with them.  Sadly, studies are showing that, with the advances of social media and other technologies that eliminate the need to have real contact with others, people are feeling more isolated and lonely than ever before has been recorded.

Depression rates are skyrocketing and apathy is rampant.  Technology is perpetuating desensitization on a global scale and the human being, while able to instantly connect with any information about anything we want to know, is left more humanly disconnected than ever.

Contrary to solitude, which is healthy in moderate doses, loneliness is an emotion, a state of mind and feeling of isolation that is destructive.  Loneliness is not of God; is the result of being away from His loving Presence. Throughout the Psalms, we see time and again how David pleaded with God to be near to him and to never remove His Presence from him.  How lonely and desperate are the Psalms David wrote while anguishing and begging for God to close the distance between them.  That is loneliness.  Fellowship with God, hearing, reading, thinking on His Holy Word in a solitary place is the remedy to a lonely, anguishing, exhausted soul.

God promises that He is always with us, so if we are in fellowship with Him, we do not experience prolonged bouts of loneliness.  He is the ultimate company and friend.  He is the antithesis of loneliness.  He may send us into the wilderness for refinement or discipline, but He is always with us.

People are hurting and lost; many are losing their sensitivity to the preciousness of life, goodness and righteousness.  The burden is on the Christian to be the light in the darkness and the way we do that is to interact in a real way with others; make time for them and be purposeful in the time we spend with them.  Then we can withdraw as needed for our alone time in solitude, just as Jesus did.  There we will always find refreshment from the living waters of God’s Word and His Presence.  Find the balance.  Leverage the benefits of solitude in our lives.  “Come out” of the world and take refuge in the rest that is found in solitude.  Then we are able to shine the light of the Lamp that is inside of us so we can illuminate the darkness around.

Solitude is not necessarily a “weapon of warfare” in the great spiritual battle, but it is a private room in the fortress and stronghold we withdraw into to rest and be renewed.  If we are not properly rested, if we are not regularly renewed, we run a high risk of being too fatigued and exhausted to stand firm in our daily battles.  Be social, spread the Good News of Christ with wisdom and discernment as opportunities present themselves.  Then slip away ‘to a quiet place and rest awhile.’

 

 

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“One day the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus, demanding that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority.  He replied, ‘ You know the saying, ‘Red sky at night means fair weather tomorrow; red sky in the morning means foul weather all day.’ You know how to interpret the weather signs in the sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the signs of the times!‘” (Matthew 16:1-3)

“Jesus told them, ‘Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’  They will deceive many.  And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic.  Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately.  Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.  Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed.  You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.  And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other.  And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people.  Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.  But the one who endures to the end will be saved.  And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:4-14)

“Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires.  They will say, ‘What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again?  From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.’  They deliberately forget that God made the heavens by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water.  Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood.  And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire.  They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.  But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.  The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think.  No, he is being patient for your sake.  He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.  But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief.”  (2 Peter 3:3-10a)

“Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.  Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along.  On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames.  But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.  And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight.  And remember, the Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved.  This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him–speaking of these things in all of his letters.  Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture.  And this will result in their destruction.” (2 Peter 3:10b-16)

The whole world is in turmoil and news of world-wide happenings (propaganda or otherwise) is instantly broadcasted everywhere, sowing uncertainty, fear, and discord in the hearts of the world’s inhabitants.

Wars, threats of wars, terrorism, persecution, pestilence, apocalyptic weather, earthquakes, and famine are just some of the signs that give testimony to the times we are living in; signs Jesus told us to look for and pay attention to. These signs, just as a red sky in the morning signals foul weather all day, are signs that the end is near.

Many scoff, “Yeah, yeah, there have been wars, terrorism, pestilence, earthquakes and really bad weather and famines and plagues that have wiped out hundreds of millions of people since the very beginning of time.  How is today any different from the rest of Earth’s history?”

From a spiritual perspective, it is interesting to note that the acceleration of one bad event after another and even simultaneous bad events on the world stage are de-sensitizing mankind’s perspective on atrocities and disasters.  The more we hear of horrendous events happening throughout the world, the less we care.  It is too much to process in our minds and our emotions.  The very things that should be bringing us to our knees in prayer before God are instead eliciting a deep desire to distract ourselves.

It is more desirable to distract ourselves and there is no limit to the distractions at hand in these times.  And so, while the world rumbles, apathy reigns.  And when apathy reigns, evil does, too.

And this may be the most important sign of these times.  Jesus told us that “the love of many will grow cold” and this little gem of truth is the separating factor that answers the scoffers.  In our time, on a world-wide scale, mankind is bombarded with incessant bad news and our hearts are growing cold.

As Christians, we are admonished by our Holy Father in Heaven to guard our hearts above all else (Proverbs 4:23), to turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it (Psalm 34:14), fix our thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable; to think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8).  We are, each of us, commanded to share the Gospel with others according to our own abilities given to us by God and above all, to love others, especially our enemies (1 Corinthians chapter 12 and 13).

While we witness the sporadic and violent gasps of this age coming to an end, Christians are the ones chosen by the Most High God to usher in the Day of the Lord, which will make all things new.

Our very lives should be a testimony that we belong not to this dying world, but to Christ.  Let us check ourselves and ask God to search our hearts and correct us while there is still time.  He is being patient with everyone, the lost and saved alike.

The fruit of our lives should be godly living instead of a life tossed to and fro by the desires and selfishness of the flesh, prayer for everyone and everything instead of cold apathy to what we see and hear, love and grace given to all including our enemy, and the bold willingness to share Christ whenever the opportunity knocks.

The Christian life is not for the faint of heart nor the fickle, as it demands more from us than we are capable of on our own.  But the Spirit who lives in us is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.  And through Jesus Christ, who has overcome the world, we look forward to the day of God and hurry it along.

When we hear of our brothers and sisters in Christ being raped, violated, persecuted, imprisoned, mocked and murdered across the world, let us remember that Jesus told us long ago it would happen and that it would escalate exponentially in the last days.  We must not be dismayed.  We must watch and be alert and live the way He told us to.  We must pray and guard our hearts from apathy, understanding that these things are happening just like He said they would.  He is near.