Dr. Laurence M. Gould, president emeritus of Carleton College, said “I do not believe the greatest threat to our future is from bombs or guided missiles. I don’t think our civilization will end that way. I think it will die when we no longer care. Arnold Toynbee has pointed out that nineteen of twenty-one civilizations have died from within and not by conquest from without. There were no bands playing and flags waving when these civilizations decayed. It happened slowly, in the quiet and in the dark when no one was aware.”
Miriam Webster defines apathy as a lack of feeling or emotion, a lack of interest or concern. Apathy is a state of disinterest, or the suppression of emotions such as care, enthusiasm, motivation, or excitement. An apathetic individual or group of people have lost interest in or care about emotional, social, spiritual, or physical life and the world. Apathy can be described as how an individual or group of individuals feel when they do not possess the ability required to confront a challenge (overwhelmed). It may also come from the feeling of having no challenge at all (such as the challenge is irrelevant to them, or they feel helpless). Everyone has felt Apathy in one way or another and it is often a response to disappointment, sadness, or stress. It can be a way to forget about or suppress these negative feelings. The feeling of apathy is generally short term but can become a long-term or even lifelong state of mind. It can be brought on by trauma (death), life changes (losing a job, divorce) or inactivity (nothing is going to change so why should I care).
We will come back to apathy in a bit. But first, let’s go back in time and see what apathy does in a spiritual sense and what can be done be overcome apathy in life and in the church.
In 586 B.C. Jerusalem was sieged and captured by the Babylonians which resulted in the destruction of the city, the walls, and Solomon’s Temple. It was during this siege that many people were taken into captivity and brought to Babylon. We talked about that last week.
In 538 B.C. the conquered or exiled people were permitted by Persian emperor King Cyrus to return to their homeland to rebuild. Initially nearly 50,000 exiles and servants relocated to Jerusalem. Upon their return the foundations for a new temple were laid, and the altar of burnt offerings was replaced so temple sacrifices could commence. Soon thereafter they began to face hostility from neighboring tribes and the project was abandoned.
In 522 B.C. a second group of exiles returned under the leadership of Zerubbabel (Governor) and Jeshua (High Priest). These leaders were inspired by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to commence rebuilding of the temple in 520 B.C. The temple was completed in 515 B.C.
This brings us to the small minor prophet book titled Haggai. This is the shortest Old Testament book coming in with less than 1100 words.
General Theme: Haggai was called to be the prophet to begin the reconstruction of the temple of God that was destroyed and ransacked by the Babylonians 70 years previous.
Major Theme: The message to rebuild the temple and to call the people to proper worship of God. Haggai assumed that calling the people back to proper worship of God would naturally accompany the initiative to rebuild the temple.
There are four points or calls to Israel in Haggai’s message and they are as follows…
Haggai 1:1 - 11
What does this mean for us today? Southside vision is to connect and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the neighborhood, the community, and to the nations. Before we can do this, we need to honestly ask and answer these questions… Have you personally grown apathetic in your relationship with Jesus? Have we as a church grown indifferent to the life changing Gospel of hope to the world through Jesus Christ? Are we more concerned with our daily lives than with sharing the love of Christ with our unsaved friends and loved one? Do we care enough to care for and reach our neighborhood and community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Revelation 2:1 – 7
The challenge of these questions brings me to the book of Revelation. In chapter 2 and 3 we read the seven letters to the seven churches is Asia Minor and the first letter is addressed to the Church in Ephesus.
When this letter was written the Church at Ephesus had become apathetic. They had lost their first love and Jesus gives them a remedy or a cure for their apathy and sin…He tells the Ephesians to remember, repent, return, and then he will restor. Jesus tells the Ephesians to heed his warning and if they do not, He will come and remove his lamp stand (His Spirit) from their midst. This means that if things don’t change soon the church will die, which unfortunately it did.
This was a problem for the church, but whenever a problem is presented in the Bible we can be encouraged because Jesus always gives the solution.
 Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1996), 153.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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