The events of the past 12 months have undoubtedly accelerated the overall apathy of Christians towards their religiosity, their church, and ultimately towards God! While some will take exception to this declaration (and that’s fine, you might be the exception), I would say that apathy is not a by-product of these past 12 months. It is instead a much deeper-rooted attitude of the post-modern Christian, and the emergence of a new strain of the Corona virus coupled with the ultra-emergence of political divisiveness has done nothing more than add another layer of post-modern excuses in the Christians justification for ignoring the 12th chapter of Hebrews (the call for the Believers endurance and submission to the Fathers discipline).
I could even say that the authors call to ‘not neglect to meet together and to encourage one another in order to stir each other up to display love and good works’ gets added to the heap pile as well. Many will disdainfully exclaim, “the churches have been closed, we haven’t ‘been allowed’ to worship together, it’s kind of hard to gather together when we are not allowed to’”. Indeed, this is not a false charge. The churches have been caught in the tension of submission and love for thy neighbor, and as such, have waded through these events in a manner that each church elected leaders have responded to according to the Spirit’s urging.
But as stated, this general apathy has been alive and well long before 2020. Church’s prior to 2020 it is estimated, have seen 5000 to 10000 shutters per year. Individual membership in churches have also witnessed a drastic reduction as only 50% of Americans now identify with a church opposed to 70% just twenty years ago. Indeed, apathy has been alive and well. For me It begs the question; do you love the Gospel?
When I use the term “Gospel”, I am not making a general reference to the first four books of the New Testament, but rather, I mean the content of those four books, as well as the content of the other 62 books of the Word of God. When I use the term Gospel, my understanding finds its source in Romans 1:16; “the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith.”
The gospel reveals the power of God in extending salvation, freely, for those who believe! This is an amazing exclamation which is the “only” good news in the history of “eternal truths”. And what do Believers to about this? The sad reality is the difference between “what do Believers do about this and what should Believers do!” Evidently Believers understand “salvation” as a “get out of jail free card”. It affords them inexhaustible liberties in the here and now, including the allowance to “grieve the Holy Spirit” and suppress His expressed “fruits” in the Believers constitution. Sadly, this is the tragedy for all too many Christians today and the church (not to mention the unbelieving world) suffers the effect of this.
It was with an unquenchable sadness that the Apostle Paul grieved over the “lostness” of his fellow kin-folk, the Israelite, of which Paul was one. I am confident that they believed themselves to be quite religious. With form and fashion did they observe the temple worship, the laws of Moses, the altar sacrifices, etc. etc. etc. But the outward showing of their religion was devoid of any inner transformation of the heart.
It is the transformation of the heart that the power of God’s salvation performs. As the prophet Ezekiel exclaimed, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I (God) will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Not only is the Believers heart disposition changed dramatically, it is also made the seat, and the source, of “Christ in me”. This is the reality Paul writes of to the Colossian church (1:27), this is the mystery of which Old Testament saints looked for, and which has been made manifest for all the whole world to see in the person and work of Christ Jesus.
Do you understand these implications? Christ Jesus takes on you sin debt, but that’s only half of the story; He places His Spirit in your heart. Author and Pastor David Platt wrote that “Christianity is nothing less than the outliving of the indwelling of Christ. Christ in you transforming your mind and emotions.”
Paul loved this Gospel so much that he was willing to be “cursed by God forever” if it meant his kinsmen could experience this life altering change from God (Rom. 9:3)! Do you love the gospel that much? Many will reply, “yes indeed”, but their witness betrays the truth.
Attending your local church does not make you a Christian, but it is part and parcel of a transformed heart and life in the same way as are daily devotions in the Scriptures and prayer. You cannot disconnect one from the other anymore than you could disconnect a terminal from a battery and expect your car to start.
The cross that Christ Jesus endured was nothing but pain, suffering and then death; and it made us right before God. The Lord Jesus did all the sacrificing, ours was nothing other than this; “I sinned”. Would you sacrifice your life in order that your countrymen would come to enjoy the love of Christ Jesus…just as He has graciously and generously done for you?
Do you love the Gospel?