by Dee Bowman | via southsideonline.org
If that ain’t a word, it oughta to be!
In the letters to the seven churches of Asia, Jesus said to the Laodiceans, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would that thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16).
It is undoubtedly so that every cause has an effect. I also affirm it to be so that the effect of indifference among the Lord’s people is one of the most effective and devastating of the devil’s devices. If the cause of our Lord is to be sustained and proliferated, there must be among its adherents an obvious eagerness, enthusiasm, and sensitivity for the cause. Indifference retards this kind of energy and casually eats away at our virtue and courage just as it did the church at Laodicea.
The problem of indifference is traceable directly to a lack of desire. A person must have a strong motivation to serve God before he will do so. This is the reason for Peter’s injunction in 1 Peter 1:2. He implores that we “desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” If a person has no more than a passing desires for such a feeding and not a longing for it, he will seldom imbibe of it, and consequently he will not grow. Indifference among our members adversely spiritual appetites so they don’t often come to the feeding trough.
The indifferent person is basically insensitive to the instructions of the word of God. His lack of interest and disposition to apathy has dulled his spiritual senses and caused him to passively resist the very thing intended to keep him from being lodged in such a state. Like the Laodiceans, he is not entirely cold, but neither is he entirely hot, and while existing in such a state, there is neither the intense cold or the disturbing heat necessary to cause him to want to make some sort of change in his life. Few things are more baffling or more frustrating than the person who is insensitive to the truth of God. He is neither “for” nor is he “against.” He is merely around somewhere and, like it or not, must be dealt with.
The indifferent person passively resists change. You see, the reason for the appeal of indifference is that it is never disquieting, never upsetting. The indifferent person is not necessarily unhappy, he’s just satisfied; and that means his case is a difficult one. The person who has obviously gone beyond the bounds of Scripture because of some over-much zeal can many times be shown the fallacy of such a trek. The person who has left off some vital part of what is necessary in his efforts to serve God can most times be shown the necessity of full obedience. But the person who just “does not care one way or the other” presents a “flustering” problem. He doesn’t make any changes for the simple reason that he sees nothing wrong with his present state of affairs. In fact, the indifferent person is likely to says, “I feel very strongly both ways.”
It would not be possible to measure the amount of loss caused the Lord’s church by indifference. The loss in man-hours spent serving God would be staggering. Who could possibly estimate the amount of money lost to the Lord’s work because of indifference? And the saddest part of it all is that there is no way to tell how many souls are languishing in sin and headed for a devil’s hell because of indifference and unconcern. And in almost any town of any size there are likely enough out-of-duty Christians to run over the meeting house, if only they could be torn away from their indifference.
I don’t have all the answers about how to handle the age-old problem of “Laodiceanitis,” but I’ll tell you one thing. Strong preaching is one of the answers. Strong churches will not be built on weak preaching. Strong preaching is sometimes disconcerting, sometimes disturbing, sometimes even agitating, it is true. But one thing it won’t do; it won’t cause folks to be indifferent. Preaching that does not storm the will is not good preaching.