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What is apathy and am I affected?

Paul urges us in Romans 12:11, “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.”

If only it were that easy! At times it can feel like zeal for the Lord is like sand slipping through our fingers. Have you ever felt apathetic towards church, your faith and fellow believers? Apathy in our spiritual and personal lives can often be accompanied by guilt and shame. We end up asking ourselves, why do I no longer feel a deep passion for Jesus?

Over the coming four weeks we’ll explore how we can recover from a season of apathy and once again, with our past fervour, bring glory to God.

What is apathy?

Defined in the Oxford English Dictionary, apathy is “the feeling of not being interested in or enthusiastic about something, or things in general.” 

Whilst apathy can look different for each believer, it may manifest itself in the following ways:

  • You struggle to focus when studying the Bible or engaging in worship.
  • Sermons feel trite and provide more guilt than conviction.
  • You feel distant from connections at church and small groups.
  • The Word seems uninteresting and even repetitive. 
  • You find yourself becoming more and more skeptical to the witnesses of believers. 

A joy problem

Christian author G.K. Chesterton wrote, “There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person.” 

To those affected by apathy, it may seem that the church, the Bible, your relationships and pertinent cultural issues don’t sway with the same compassion within as they have before. Gradually, you’re slipping away from being “constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12) and are instead allowing the trials of the world to overwhelm you. Proverbs 17:22 puts it like this: “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

However, Jesus recognises the trouble that we will face in this world (John 16:33). The story of our faith is never static but instead fluid mountains and valleys. Jesus recognises the struggles that we can face, as believers, who try to maintain resounding enthusiasm and compassion when it may, in fact, feel exhausting to continue giving our shirt and coat (Matthew 5:40). We feel like giving up rather than bearing our cross, because we have lost sight of “the king in his beauty” (Isaiah 33:17). 

Practical steps

In this series, not only do we plan to explore the topic of apathy at a deeper level and provide solutions to spiritual emptiness, we also would like to offer practical steps that believers can take in order to rekindle the zeal for His house (Psalm 69:9). 

If apathy is potentially an invitation from God to dig deeper into our story and faith, consider taking the steps below. 

  • Affirm your testimony. 

Write, speak or meditate on the unique testimony God has granted you. How does this continue to form you?

  • Share your feelings with another believer. 

Apathy can cause isolation if we continue to believe the lie that we are alone in spiritual apathy. This is far from the truth, so instead of allowing your situation to exacerbate apathy, why not set up a coffee date with another Christian who will likely be able to relate to your current season. 

  • Consider what the root cause of your apathy is.

We live in a broken world, and are surrounded by broken people. Consequently, people are bound to make mistakes. As one example, especially in the current times, perhaps the apathy you are facing has stemmed from the pain we see in the community as a result of virus sickness, racism, perversion or misguided leadership within the church. 

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Invite God to work in your life today through a simple prayer: Lord, deliver me from the apathy I face. Help me reaffirm the Truth and Hope that you offer and guide me towards a renewed zeal and passion. Holy Spirit, help me forgive those who have trespassed against me and fill me with the spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Next week we’ll explore how seeking stillness with Him can in turn heal apathetic souls.