According to the Webster dictionary, the word ‘indifference’ is defined as the ‘lack of interest or concern’ or ‘lacking in importance’. Thus, in light of this definition, we can understand that spiritual indifference involves an unconcerned attitude or apathetic disposition toward spiritual matters.
Such an attitude can be seen manifested in the lives of Christians when they intentionally make decisions to ignore spiritual matters and choose to place greater concerns on the material things of this world. In this regard, an indifferent Christian is one who understands what needs to be done, but he or she is unwilling to make the necessary commitment to fulfil his or her responsibilities as a member of the Lord’s church.
Bearing in mind the meaning of spiritual indifference, it is important for Christians to be keenly aware of the various symptoms of this spiritual malady so that prompt action can be taken when we recognise these happening in our lives.
One of the noticeable symptoms of spiritual indifference is a decline in church attendance. In this respect, when there is a decline in church attendance, it could be inferred that there is a lack of hunger in listening to the preaching of God’s Word. Members of the church may allow themselves to be deceived thinking that their attendance in bible classes and worship on Sundays are not important.
And for that matter, Christians may also delude themselves into reasoning that their attendance during Wednesday Bible classes is not important since it is not mandated in God’s Word. However, when we are tempted to think along this line of thought, let us seriously ponder and take heed to what the Scriptures say in Hebrew 10:24-25, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
The unwillingness of Christians to consider the needs of other brethren or the people whom they know is another symptom of spiritual indifference. An indifferent Christian would not be bothered so much to care for the needs of other people in his or her circle of life. When we do not care enough to know what the people around us are going through, it is inevitable that we would find ourselves gradually slipping into a self-centred lifestyle for sure.
The Scriptures exhort us in Philippians 2:3-4, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Christians are also commanded by God to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
Furthermore, a Christian who has an indifferent attitude would not be so concerned about the sad spiritual state of those people they know who are still lost in sin. Consider this question seriously: “When we close our eyes and think about those people whom we know who are still outside of Christ, what would be our honest initial response be like, keeping in view our responsibility as Christians to share the good news of our Lord with others?”
This is a thought-provoking question that forces us to reflect on our priorities in our lives. The truth of the matter is this: when soul-winning and outreach efforts take a back stage in our lives, it reveals a spiritual disconnect between what we claim to believe about the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16) and what is actually happening in reality. Hence, let us not allow spiritual indifference to cause us to lose sight of our important responsibility as Christians to win souls for our Lord.
Besides recognising the symptoms of spiritual indifference, it is also important that Christians be mindful of the potential consequences of harbouring an indifferent attitude in our spiritual lives. First of all, the Word of God tells us that harbouring a heart of indifference would not allow us to be pleasing to God. “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). We would remember the apathetic condition of the church at Laodicea recorded in Revelation 3:15-17. Here, when Christ rebuked the Laodicean church, it wasn’t for gross immorality or even doctrinal compromise. Rather, it was for spiritual indifference due to pride.
The Scriptures also warn us that spiritual indifference will cause us to lose our salvation. Brethren, we need to be watchful against allowing indifference to rob us of our salvation in Christ. Our Lord Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”
When one is indifferent toward spiritual matters it would be difficult for the preaching of God’s Word to touch the heart of such an individual as he or she would not have a receptive heart. As such, this would prevent Christians from obeying what God has commanded them to do, and therefore putting the salvation of their souls at stake.
Moreover, spiritual indifference would also deplete Christians of spiritual strength. “But how does that happen?” 1 John 2:15-17 warns us about putting our affections on the things of this world. As we take time to reflect on this passage of Scriptures, let us always be mindful that feelings of disinterest towards spiritual matters can gradually creep into our lives when we allow the cares and distractions of this world to choke our spiritual lives.
Our worldly aspirations and wrong priorities would cause us to gradually experience lesser and lesser energy to serve in our Lord’s church. To this end, Satan would be happy when he sees more and more Christians not serving actively in the Lord’s church.