Growing up in church I heard a lot of good word and also good, practical life advice. One popular and applicable message I remember was on having a good attitude. Hearing, “Your attitude determines your altitude”, is not only true but a good reminder to keep things in perspective when tempted to live life with a crummy outlook. Staying positive and not giving way to negative emotions is very important if we as believers don’t want to live in constant defeat. Surrounding yourself with solid people is also an important part of this. The Word clearly states, “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Cor. 15:33).
However, there came a time in my life where I wanted to have a good attitude so badly and only wanted to surround myself with nothing but positivity and positive people, that I lost my balance. I found myself making decisions that seemed good at the time, but later showed I was lacking wisdom, compassion, and love. I replaced walking in love with walking in avoidance. I didn’t want to even acknowledge the bad in or around me. I created a new reality that kept me from seeing things and life as they were, avoiding conflict in any form or fashion. Slowly but surely I found myself in the lonely land of indifference.
Webster defines “indifference” as:
1. the quality, state, or fact of being indifferent
2. a. archaic: lack of difference or distinction between two or more things
b: absence of compulsion to or toward one thing or another
Here are some synonyms: apathy, disregard, nonchalance, unconcern, lukewarmness, coldness, detachment, hard-heartedness, and insensitivity.
Lukewarmness? Hard-heartedness? Yikes, that sounds so harsh! Yet I found myself nearing this listless place towards life and God’s people. Initially all I wanted was to keep the bad out so that my attitude would not be affected negatively. But soon I found myself not acknowledging others’ feelings because I didn’t want to receive an opinion on anything that might rock the boat in any direction and cause any drama. I’ve heard it said, “Hate isn’t the opposite of love, indifference is”. I’m so thankful that I’ve had others around me that weren’t indifferent when my life came to a negative halt. I’m thankful that they loved me through the darkness. Can you imagine if everyone treated me the way I was treating them during my hard times? What about Jesus? Can you imagine if He walked this earth only looking for the “sun shiny” happy people? Where would the blind man be? What about Mary Magdalene? Or the thief that hung next to Him on the cross? Lastly, let’s not forget us. He came with a mission to seek and save the lost. He came looking for the outcasts, dark, and negative people. He came looking for you and me. He didn’t grow cold and indifferent towards the people He came to save (Matt 9:36).
Indifference leads to ineffectiveness. If you’ve found yourself in the land of indifference with those around you, I encourage you to pray and ask God to remind you of your purpose with people. Perhaps, as a reminder, you can read this aloud just like Jesus did:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19 (NIV)
We aren’t here to be on an island by ourselves until Jesus comes. We are meant to be agents of change. We came to light the darkness with the love of Christ. Keep shining.