Monday, August 29, 2011

Indifference in a Christian

“The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.”  Elie Wiesel

It would seem that i would not have to address this point in our quest to know 'What is Christianity', but you would be surprised.  We are on the threshold of a new era in America, it is our generation that is ushering in the post Christian era.  When historians look back at the waning years  of the Christian era in America  what will the legacy of this slowly vanishing generation be?  How will we be remembered?  More importantly how will God look upon us, those who profess to be Christians, as we one by one come to kneel in His presence?  Surely we will be judged, and judged severely, both by historians and God. Our sins have cast a long dark shadow over the church and humanity:  divorce for any cause, church sanctioned remarriages for the guilty, adultery, gay marriages, child neglect and abuse, corporate and individual greed, starvation on a scale unimaginable, countless civil wars, bloodbaths in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, South America, and Mexico, and on the streets of America.  So much evil, so much indifference.

What is indifference? Webster’s dictionary defines it as “lack of difference or distinction between two or more things and absence of compulsion to or toward one thing or another”  A unnatural  and ungodly state in which we blur the lines between light and darkness, crime and punishment, truth and lies, cruelty and compassion, good and evil

Indifference is a philosophy that we have embraced, one that has it’s inescapable consequences.  As a society and as individuals we have come to view indifference as a virtue, it is what we chose to practice to live a normal life, to watch a new television show, to  enjoy a nice glass of wine, to sing in the church choir,  as those around us experience harrowing upheavals?

The sin of Indifference can be tempting -- more than that, seductive.  It is so much easier to look away from the victims. It is so much easier to avoid rude interruptions to our work, our dreams, our hopes, our desires.   It is, after all, difficult, trying, and troublesome, to get involved in another person's pain and despair.  For the person who is indifferent, his or her neighbor,  friends and family of are of no consequence;  their lives are meaningless.  Their hidden or even visible turmoil is meaningless, for the indifferent person sees no personal benefit in getting involved.   Indifference reduces all others to an abstraction.

What happened?  I don't understand.  Why the indifference, on the highest level, to the suffering of the victims?  Indifference to your spouse, your child, your promises, your community, your friends, to God’s commands.   Why is there just a remnant of 'Christians'  who remain willing to subject themselves to God’s will at the expense of tharm, and neiteir own, to save the honor of our faith.  Why are they so few?   Why is there a greater effort to ignore repentance and  forgive the sinner, then there is to care for the victims.   How is one to explain our indifference?

Indifference, after all, is more dangerous than anger and hatred.  As discussed on previous blogs, Anger can at times be creative.   A person can direct their anger to writing a great poem, an inspiring piece of music, anger at the injustice that one witnesses can compel one to do something special for the sake of humanity.   But indifference is never creative, indifference simply exists.   Even hatred at times may elicit a positive response.   The righteous chose to denounce it, disarm it, the righteous chose to fight it.  Indifference is not a response to anything, even sin.

Indifference is not the beginning, it is the end;  indifference is a favorite weapon of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor -- never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten.  The deserted wife, the abandoned child, The political prisoner in his cell, a hungry child, the homeless.  We see their faces, their eyes. Do we hear their pleas? Do we feel their pain, their agony?  When we ‘Christians’ fail to respond to their plight, to step into the gap to relieve their solitude by offering them a spark of hope is to exile them from humanity; and in denying their humanity we betray our own.

Indifference, then, is not only a sin, it is a punishment.  While man can live far from God, he cannot live outside God.  God is wherever we are.  Even in suffering.  As we chose to treat those around us, and those who share this earth with indifference,  why do we believe God will treat us an differently? 

Our society is composed of three simple categories: the takers, the victims, and the bystanders. We all know the takers, they are the thieves, the adulterer, the drug dealer, those who divorce their spouse, the shoplifter, the gossiper, the dictators, all those who seek their own gain at the expense of others; we all know the victims, their faces are all around us.  Then there are the bystanders – the witnesses, those that this blog addresses, what kind of witness are you?  Try gratitude, see how it changes your perspective and your life. 

"So, because you are lukewarm neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth." Rev 3:16
 Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear

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