Eric Hoffer, author of “The True Believer,” once said that “The opposite of the religious fanatic is not the fanatical atheist but the gentle cynic who cares not whether there is a god or not.” What is worse than not believing in God? Perhaps worse than not believing in God is believing that God exists but doing nothing about it.
The Urgency of Light.
Indifference is defined as lack of interest, concern, or sympathy. To suspect that something is vital and not care is more dangerous than ignorance and outright unbelief. In the Scriptures, truth is compared to light that illumines our darkness. Once we come into contact with the truth, an urgency for action is created. It is like walking by a burning house, you hear the screams, smell the acrid smoke, and feel the heat on your face, but instead of running to do something, you keep walking. It is the same with the revelation of truth – Once we know it, we are obligated to respond to it one way or another. Thus, John said,
And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God (John 3:19–21).[i]
What happens when we witness the light of truth with complacency? We open ourselves up to become the basest version of ourselves, people we were never meant to become, corrupt and twisted. Paul spoke of what happens when darkness is confronted by the light and the light is ignored.
“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done (Rom. 1:28).” This truth is as ancient as Solomon’s Proverbs. “For waywardness kills the simple, and the complacency of fools destroys them (Prov. 1:32).”
Curiously, we find in the Scriptures that God has more regard for the cold heart than for the lukewarm life. At least the cold heart has made a conscious choice, but the lukewarm has whittled away their time with tepid disinterest. God is clearly seen having this sentiment toward the Church of Laodicea. “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot (Rev. 3:15). Does this mean that God looks on the atheist with more favor than the lukewarm Christian? After all, some atheists are more committed to their beliefs than some Christians are to theirs. Perhaps that is a conversation for another time.
The Perseverance of God
In our next blog, we will discuss some factors that fuel spiritual indifference, but for now I leave you with a word of comfort: If we are cold, lukewarm, or full-on astray like the prodigal son, God will come after us. When Israel had long bouts of spiritual indifference as evidenced in their obstinate idolatry, God always came after them. He used spiritual cattle prods like invading armies, famine, or summery judgements to bring His people back, and He will do the same for us today. If you feel cool toward God, know that He is still passionate for you. The price He paid to get you by giving you His only Son cannot be measured. I strongly suspect that God will seek to protect His investment!
[i]. All Scriptures are taken from, The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989.