What Lies Behind Apathy

th3SK6U3E6The point of Christian apologetics is to “defend” the Faith, and the point of the Faith is to proclaim the good news of salvation to the world. Salvation, naturally enough, means saving, and a person only needs saving when he is in some peril. But ask the secularist today what peril he is in: he may tell you he’s worried about losing his job, or about the prospects of terrorism, or about difficulties he might be having at home. It’s doubtful that he will throw in that he’s concerned about the ultimate destiny of his soul, or that he wishes he could be sure that he will spend eternity in God’s presence in the company of those he has loved here.

Why is that? Why is the modern secularist so confident that his soul does not need salvation? Many secularists will concede that there may indeed be a God, or many gods, but nonetheless they do not seem worried about how He will judge them. Most often, the answer you hear will be a variation of: I’m a good person, after all, and God will judge me accordingly. There are dozens of definitions of “good” but for our purposes, let’s assume that most people mean in this context something along the lines of “morally excellent, virtuous or righteous.” God presumably will tally all the morally excellent, virtuous or righteous deeds they have done in their lives and this will tip the scales in favor of entry into heaven. But this analogy, upon reflection, provides scant reassurance.

After all, a scale is only used if there is something to be placed on the other side. Considering that selfishness is a big part of the human condition, and considering that an all-knowing God not only sees all our imperfections and failings, but sees them in His eternal present – in other words, they never fade forgotten into the past –  then there is real cause to be concerned that our scale will quickly tip against us. Risking one’s eternity on such calculations is not a wise bet, especially when the maker of the scale has provided a better alternative.

Polls tell us that an increasing percentage of Americans are obese. I suspect no one starts out hoping to achieve that result, given all the negative health consequences. Yet the human capacity for self-deception is great. We ignore the evidence of our eyes, and of the scale, as we continue to feel “pretty good” about ourselves, and we blithely ignore the bulging beltline that displays our self-deception. So, too, it seems with eternal things. Banking on our ability to keep the scale tipped in our favor – on the side of “good” outweighing bad – simply fails to consider how a perfect God views our behavior. Like the battle of the bulge, the struggle is incremental. We may do much that is good, but trying to make this case to a perfect God and demand admission to his presence based on having earned it is a decidedly reckless approach.

The good news of course is that the One who made the scale, and who will do the judging, has given us the means to stay in perfect balance. But to do so, we must place our trust in Him.

Posted by Al Serrato

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  1. thom waters says:

    I often wonder what a true believer’s life would be like if they insisted on living their life as a true expression of those things believed. In other words if a believer truly believed that countless numbers of people around them were in need of salvation and perishing as a result, destined to an eternal damnation, what might this true believer’s life look like? Would they be pursuing the comforts of big homes, 401K retirement programs, nice cars, and all the other attachments that non-believers seem to be pursuing. For the most part I have observed that most true believers simply live lives similar to those outside the community of believers. They simply talk differently, proclaim a “faith”, do a few token requirements of “belief”, and mostly look like everybody else. I think you’re right. Apathy abounds and has taken the place of “true belief.” Such belief and what it might actually mean for your life simply scares the pants off most people in my opinion. Best to be comfortable in “belief” and now we can feel good about ourselves…Your life, however, for the most part looks just like everybody else. Just a quick thought. thanks.

    • Faith says:

      Christians often make the same mistake the article charges non-Christians with. “Many secularists will concede that there may indeed be a God, or many gods, but nonetheless they do not seem worried about how He will judge them. Most often, the answer you hear will be a variation of: I’m a good person, after all, and God will judge me accordingly. ” The Christian just says, “God loves me and will forgive me.”

      Both sides need to give a hard look at the idea that they could be wrong abut God, forgiveness, goodness, etc. The secularist, who isn’t even sure what God’s like, needs to investigate whether God will judge him by the secularist’s standard. The Christian needs to open their Bible and see that while eternal forgiveness does come through belief in Christ, Christians are also responsible to live like Christians.

      Throughout my Christian life, I’ve been aware that the unsaved are on their way to Hell, and that the Bible charges me to do something about it. Much like your description, I’ve excused myself from that responsibility, until about a year ago when I encountered a situation I couldn’t ignore. Since then, I’ve studied resources from apologetics ministries like Please Convince Me to be better prepared to share my faith. In the process, I’ve learned that the God I hoped is a real person actually is a real person.

      Faced with the reality of God, I’ve had to reassess how I treat Him. That includes what I put ahead of His command to share the Gospel, among other things. It’s a process, one every Christian should go through to uphold their intellectual integrity.

      Likewise, this article describes secularists who are open to the idea that God exists. Since they accept that God could exist, they accept that they could be in great eternal danger. They owe it to themselves to ensure they aren’t in danger instead of assuming that the God they don’t know is on their side without doing the research.

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