Sunday, January 31, 2010

Apathy Will Be the Death of You and Me

I had prepared a sermon for this morning's service, but over the course of the 48 hour prayer weekend, I really felt like I was to wait, that today was not the day to present this particular message. Instead I preached on forgiveness, and included the Poetry Slam I wrote. I had made my senior pastor aware of my decision, and of course he encouraged me to continue as I felt led. As I prepared to go to the pulpit, I looked around and noticed more young adults in our congregation than usual, and knew that this was the right message for this day. My senior pastor commented as well, on the perhaps not so coincidental change in the mornings plans considering the demographic of the church community this morning.

The message I had originally prepared and will be delivering at another time, developed from a time of prayer with God where I was questioning Him about the church, which resulted in the book of Haggai being impressed upon me. I have read that book at least 30 times over the past month, as it was such a powerful and direct answer to my inquiries.

I'm obviously not going to post my message here, before I present it at the church, but I thought I would summarize the book of Haggai, and an analogy I drew from it.

Apathy will be the death of you and me. 16 years later the people of Judah still hadn’t finished what they started - the Temple. They had taken their eyes off the goal, their eyes off God and had slid into a lifestyle of complacency and apathy. Haggai was compelled by the Lord to reveal to the Judeans the consequences of obedience and disobedience to the Lord, as it pertained especially to the building of His temple.

The people of Judah had not made the construction of the temple their priority; they had not put God first in their lives. They had allowed their self-centeredness and me first attitudes to drive them into an environment of complacency and apathy. Their homes had taken precedence over the temple [1:4], their interests, over the interests of God. Haggai was intent on getting them re-focused on God, the task He had provided them to do – and back on the right track as a people serving Yahweh.

The Judeans were called by Haggai to evaluate where it was they were headed, to “give careful thought to their ways” [1:5], it reminded me of a line I have heard from Dr. Phil “How is that working for you?” Haggai was saying in essence take a look around, all the things you have placed your efforts in, how are they paying off for you; not well as we can establish from verse 1:6 “You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in itWe can put our efforts into all our own self-interests but if it is not of God it will amount to nothing. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away.” [1:9]

God using him, Haggai stepped in and spoke up, with clarity and insight.  The word of the Lord stirred their spirits and renewed their commitment to God and His purposes. Where rebuke had birthed repentance, now reassurance would birth encouragement and strength in the Lord. “But now be strong…and work for I am with you, declares the Lord almighty” [2:4]

The call to build the temple could also serve as an allegory for us as individuals and the body of Christ. We sometimes neglect the spiritual work that needs to be tended to in our lives, the building up of our spiritual fortitude, instead focusing on more pleasurable or immediate attentions, such as our work, popularity, success, friendships etc. etc. We focus so much on getting ahead, to the neglect of our spiritual walk, and then wonder why we are progressing so slowly.  It's either ignorance or apathy.  Either we don't care or don't understand that if we tended to our spiritual lives, and relationship with God first, maintaining our focus and priority in Him, then everything else would fall into place as per God’s will.

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