Overcoming Apathy

I was speaking to someone recently who is not a Christian, saying some things about creation, marriage and the gospel. In listening to me my friend was extremely patient and pleasant, but it made me reflect that often it is not so much hostility that we have to overcome, but apathy.

Sometimes when we present the outrageous claims of Christ as the one and only way to God, or the reality of hell, or the need for moral purity, we may experience extreme and challenging reactions. Many of us have been dubbed ‘arrogant’ for speaking about what we believe to non-believers.

But I think that in our post-Christian world, the most likely response we will receive is just disinterest – lack of any sense that the gospel, the Bible and Jesus Christ, might be at all relevant. Such a reaction might spring from an underlying philosophical objection, but often it can simple be from a worldview that believes nothing matters: life is what it is, you just make the best of it; there is no ultimate meaning to anything.

Sometimes our evangelism does answer the questions people are asking; sometimes it answers the questions nobody is asking. Perhaps more often than not, however, there are no questions.

This can be very depressing. They will not debate with us; they are not open to the classic apologetic arguments. How can we reach people like this? I want to suggest positive ways forward:

The power of prayer

Prayer is the means God uses to pour out his blessing. Are you praying for open minds, inquisitive minds, anguished souls crying out for answers?

The power of the gospel

We can sometimes feel the weakness of the words we use to explain the person and work of Jesus, but as the Holy Spirit works these words become the power of God to save.

The power of persistent personal witness

Just say something today. It doesn’t have to be everything. Plant a stone in someone’s shoe. It might be a long wait for the next conversation but keep going, always making the most of every opportunity.

The power of relationships

God often uses relationships to demonstrate the gospel and provide a context for discussing its content. Invite people into your home and into your lives; let them see authentic Christianity, warts and all.

The power of community

A group of Christians living as family is a powerful witness – who wouldn’t want to be a part of such a family when it works in God’s way?

So, maybe it wasn’t my friend who was being apathetic at all; he was just being a fallen human being. No, I was the one being faithless and apathetic. God can and does provoke interest and he provides all the answers in Christ.

Graham Nicholls is Director of Affinity


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