The Sin of Indifference

Bill Mosely
Tucson, Arizona

There are many obstacles to the growth of the church in our day. One of the greatest of these is the indifferent church member. Webster ~ New Collegiate Dictionary defines indifference as follows: "apathy; lack of feeling for or against anything." He goes on to say "... not interested in or con6erned about something; neutral; having no prepondering influence or value." How many people, claiming membership in the Lord's body fall into this category! They have no feeling for or against the church; they are not concerned about it, nor interested in it. As a result of such attitudes, they are of no value to the church. As far as they are concerned, the church can live or die.

In the light of these definitions, we can see why the indifferent member is a hindrance to the church. He does more harm to the church than one who professes no religion. Everybody knows what the atheist is, and he is not likely to bring any lasting harm to the church - only to himself. The Laodiceans were condemned because they were neither cold nor hot; not for nor against. They were to be rejected because of their lukewarmness -indifference.

Note what Joseph Fletcher says about indifference. "The true opposite of love is not hate but indifference. Hate, bad as it is, at least treats the neighbor as a THOU, whereas indifference turns the neighbor into an IT, a thing. This is why we may say that there is actually one thing worse than evil itself, and that is indifference to evil. In human relations the nadir of morality, the lowest point as far as Christian ethics are concerned, is manifest in the phrase, 'I couldn't care less'."

(Reader ~ Digest, Nov. 1968)

As I reflected on these words, I thought how true they are! I had to agree when Fletcher said "... the lowest point as far as Christian ethics are concerned, is manifest in the phrase, 'I couldn't care less." This is the way some members feel - "I couldn't care less." They won't say it with words, but their actions speak it far more eloquently than words ever could. Such have no active interest in the work and worship of the congregation of which they are a member. They are lax in their assembling for worship or study. They never take time to visit or call a sick brother. They do not engage in a private study of the Word; this fact is shouted out by their obvious lack of knowledge concerning that Word. They are indifferent, and have no value to the church. Yet, for the sake of numbers, the brethren seldom exercise any corrective or disciplinary measures against such indifferent members. We need to realize that the church is better off without such members. Lest some think this to be a harsh statement, remember what the Lord said he would do concerning such people. (Rev. 3: 14-16)

The ultimate in indifference was brought home to me upon one occasion. I had preached a sermon on lukewarmness and indifference. One brother came out the door, shook my hand and said, "that was a good sermon, preacher. But I guess I'm just one of those lukewarm members you talked about." So far as I know, he never did do anything about his condition and probably is still lukewarm. He was indifferent about his indifference!

There is a need in the church today for members burning with zeal, overflowing with enthusiasm and abounding in labor and work. But such are hard to find. Enter in among the assembly of many congregations and witness a feeling of gloom, and feel the "deadness" of it. This is not so when a congregation is free of indifferent members. Hear the apostle as he says "... always abounding in the work of the Lord." Hear him as he commends the Thessalonians for their "labor of love." The scriptures teem with such phrases, but do they describe many today - individuals or congregations?

My brother or sister, if you have been indifferent toward your responsibility as a
Christian, and toward the church, you had better wake up! The Lord is coming one day,
and you will stand before him in judgment. Would he commend you as a tireless worker
for his cause; as one who ceaselessly labored without regard for personal or physical things? Or will you be as the slothful servant? If so, you will be cast into outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Many try to excuse their indifference by saying, can't do this or that." I'm sure if these indifferent church members were sure the Lord would return tomorrow, they would move as heretofore thought impossible of them. They would get things done that even they thought they could never do! Do you know something? Tomorrow might be the day!


June 18, 1970