Faith Church

What Would Jesus UNdo? – Spiritual Indifference | Sermon from 4/28/2019

Let’s see a show of hands, how many of you had a WWJD bracelet back in the 1990’s?  How many of you still have that bracelet?  How many of you have no idea what I’m talking about?  For those who are in the dark here, back in the 1990’s there was a craze that swept the nation where people wore a simple bracelet with the letters WWJD on it.  The letters were to remind people that in any situation they found themselves they should ask, What Would Jesus Do?  That phrase came from the book In His Steps, written by Charles Sheldon in 1896.  In the book there is a pastor, Rev. Henry Maxwell, who encourages people to follow in the steps of Jesus by asking in every situation what would Jesus do.  The book follows a few people who do this and how their lives, and their world, turned upside down.  That simple question does help us think about what it means to follow Jesus and it can give us direction and guidance in all things.

But the life of Jesus isn’t just about doing things, Jesus also came to undo some things.  Last week we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus and the resurrection is all about Jesus undoing death and the power of death.  All through Lent we talked about forgiveness and how the forgiveness of Jesus undoes our sin and releases us from the guilt and shame of sin.  So Jesus didn’t just come to show us what to do, he also came to undo some things in our lives, and so for the next few weeks we want to ask What Would Jesus UNDo?

The first thing that Jesus wants to undo in our lives is spiritual indifference because our indifference literally makes God sick.  In the book of Revelation we find 7 letters that Jesus wrote to the churches of the world and in his last letter Jesus says, Rev. 3:15-16.

Laodicea was located in a region known for hot springs, and hot springs serve a purpose.  Hot water soothes muscles and mineral springs are known for their healing powers.  So hot water is good and has a purpose, and cold water has a purpose, it refreshes, and it can rinse us clean.  So hot and cold water are good, they serve a purpose, but lukewarm water is good for nothing.  And as the hot water from the Laodicea springs was sent into the city, it got lukewarm and this lukewarm water would often make people sick.

The illustration Jesus gives us is clear, if we are hot or cold, we serve a purpose, we are useful to God, but when we are lukewarm, when we are indifferent, when we just don’t care, we make God sick.  The literal translation of the word spit is actually to spew or to vomit.   Being lukewarm about our faith, spiritual indifference, makes God sick.  He can’t stand having us part of his life.

So if there is one thing that Jesus wants to undo in all our lives it is spiritual indifference and in too many ways, spiritual indifference has slowly crept into our lives.  That’s the problem with indifference, it doesn’t come upon us at once, it slowly creeps in as we make decisions that pull us away from God.  Some people have said that we are living in a “meh” generation.  Not a “me” generation where the focus is on us, but a “meh” generation where we just don’t care.  Unless the issue is politics or the latest viral video making the rounds on social media, many people just don’t care, and that includes not caring about our faith.
Do you want to go to worship?  Meh.  
Do you want to join a small group?  Meh.  
Do you want to go on mission trip this year?  Meh.  
Do you want to read the Bible this year?  Meh.  

In so many ways spiritual indifference has invaded our lives and we haven’t even noticed.  We have lost our passion and there are two main reasons why.  The first is the Illusion of Self Sufficiency.  Let’s go back to Rev. 3:17.

We think we have everything we need so we have stopped relying upon God.  Which means we have stopped looking to God.  While we pray, give us this day our daily bread, we stopped looking to God to give us bread a long time ago because our cupboards are full.  Let’s face it, our houses are full.  Our garages are full.  Our storage units are full.  Our lives are full.  We are so full that we don’t think we need anything.  We don’t even need God, and when we think we don’t need God, we have become spiritually indifferent.  Whether we have God as part of our lives or not doesn’t really make any difference.

We think we are rich but the reality is that in the things that matter most in life, we are poor, wretched, pitiful, blind, and naked.  We think we have everything but in reality we have nothing.  Our indifference comes because we have told ourselves over time we just don’t need God day to day.   We are just fine on our own.

The 2nd cause for spiritual indifference is Worldly Distractions.  Jesus told a parable about our lives of faith where he compares our faith to a seed that tries to grow in different soils.  He said, Some seed is sown among the thorns, these are the ones who hear the word but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for others things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing.  The cares of the world and the desire for other things –worldly distractions – leads to spiritual indifference.

Sometimes the indifference comes from the distractions that just come with the everyday routines of life.  We have our jobs to focus on and our families to care for.  We have bills to pay, kids to get run around, houses to clean, grass to cut, flowers to plant, vacations to plan, investments to check on, emails to answer, Facebook to update, Instragram to check out, and we have to update all our posts so people know we are still living the dream.  The distractions of life in this world can cause us to be indifferent to the things of God, and if we have a little bit of Jesus mixed in with all that we have going on, we have that bases covered, so we are good.  Thing might be good, but we are not living with spiritual passion.

Because spiritual indifference slowly creeps into our lives, we may not even see how indifferent we have become, so let me ask us all some questions to see if we are living spiritually indifferent lives.

1. Are we more concerned with impressing people or living for God?  We live in a selfie / social media culture where we often look to share our lives in an effort to impress others instead of thinking about how we can live more faithfully for God.  Are we looking for likes and shares on social media, or are we looking for God’s direction and God’s blessing on our lives?

2. Are we more obsessed with life on earth or eternity in heaven?  Jesus told a parable about a rich man who was more focused on his life here and in many ways this parable reflects our lives today.  Luke 12:16-21.  Too often we only focus on the things of this world and we forget about the things that have eternal significance.  The treasure of heaven is our faith and how we live that faith out day to day in service to God and others.

3. Do we rationalize our sin?  When we start telling ourselves that our sin is not that bad, we have stopped being passionate about God.  God never says, well don’t worry, it’s not that bad.  Sin is bad.  It was so bad that the only way it could be overcome was for Jesus to die.  While we shouldn’t live in fear and guilt and shame, we also can’t rationalize our sin and just allow it to linger in our lives, if we do, it will lead to spiritual indifference.

4. Do we believe in Jesus but then aren’t willing to share Jesus?  Many times we don’t share our faith because we don’t think it is our place to share Jesus with others, or we don’t think it really matters.  Either way, if we give up sharing Jesus, it means we have given up the #1 purpose Jesus gave his followers after his resurrection.  Jesus said to his disciples, Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.  There is no way that not sharing Jesus can be part of a passion filled life of faith.  If we have gotten comfortable not sharing Jesus, than we have grown lukewarm and spiritually indifferent.

5.  Do we only turn to God when we need God?  If we only call on God, or pray, when we are in need, we have become indifferent to what God wants in our lives.  God wants to speak to us every day.  God wants to give direction to us every day.  God wants to help us and fill us and challenge us every day and while God loves it when we call on him, he wants that call to be part of an ongoing vital daily relationship.

Let’s face it, these 5 questions are challenging.  This week I have realize how easily I have become lukewarm.  I grieve our political divide more than I grieve the reality that more and more people are leaving a life of faith in Jesus Christ behind.  I want more time to read the next novel but don’t think about more time to read God’s word.  I get all worked up about what I see in our culture but fail to be moved by true injustice, poverty, and hunger in the world.  I don’t need a bracelet to tell me that what Jesus wants to undo in my life is spiritual indifference.  But what do I do?  Where do I start?

When we slowly see how much in our lives needs to change, it becomes easy to get overwhelmed and change nothing, so let me offer this suggestion: every day do one thing that requires faith.

Every morning we need to ask God to show us one thing that we need to do that we simply cannot do on our own.  We need to find one thing to do that requires us to have faith and trust in God to do it.  It can be anything from speaking up for someone at work, standing with someone at school, or helping someone in need when we don’t think we have the time or ability to do it and then stepping out to do it.

Maybe we need to pray out loud in Sunday school or our Small group, maybe we need to start attending a Sunday school class or small group even though we don’t think we have the time or ability to do it.  Maybe we need to commit to serving in the community, or giving something away that will really cause us to think or feel some pain.  If our tithes and offerings don’t really require faith to give, then maybe we aren’t giving enough.

If every day we push ourselves to do one thing that we simply couldn’t do without faith, and then we do it every day, and every week, and then by the end of the year we will no longer be lukewarm.  Pushing ourselves to do that which we cannot do in our own strength, slowly turns the temperature up on our faith and sets our hearts and lives on fire.  If there is one thing God wants to undo in our lives, it is to untie this knot of spiritual indifference.

Next Steps

Read Jesus letter to the church in Laodicea – Revelation 3:14-22.

Commit to working on 1 of these 3 relationships this week:

Relationship with God
In what ways has your relationship with God grown lukewarm?  Why?

What 1 thing can you do this week to strengthen your relationship with God that will require you to give more time and energy than you think you have to give?

Relationship with the Church
In what ways has your involvement and connection with the church grown lukewarm?  Why?

What 1 thing can you do this week to connect with others in the life of the church will require you to get out of your comfort zone?

Relationship with the World
In what ways has your passion for the world seeing and becoming the kingdom of God grown lukewarm?  Why?

What 1 thing can you do this week to engage the world for God that will require you to pray and ask for God’s help?

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