Dear Family of St John’s

Way back in my early varsity days my husband and I were involved in the university radio station. We continued our involvement through the process of obtaining a community broadcasting license.  He was on the management side of things, while I did news reading and some jingles.

One of my most vivid memories from my news reading days was sitting in the studio, on air, reading the news.  The DJ who was hosting the show thought it would be funny to set my script alight.  My reading speed increased dramatically! Perhaps that incident has something to do with why I often speak too quickly?

Things like that are not done now, I’m sure.  We were all students and operated under a completely different set of rules!

I had a much more relaxed radio experience yesterday afternoon when I joined Julius Kirsten on air for Kingfisher FM’s Church Half Hour. I’m relieved to say there was no fire involved!

We chatted about something that’s been bothering me for a while. Apathy.

I’m noticing how more and more people seem to be disengaging – from each other and from the world around them. I’m astounded at the number of people I’ve spoken to lately, particularly younger people, who haven’t bothered to register to vote. Or, if they are already registered, don’t intend voting.

People seem to show little interest in what happens in the world around them, even in their own communities.

I think part of the reason for this is that we are bombarded with a constant stream of news and information.  We see stories about turmoil and strife, horrors happening in our own city and in the world around us.  We read about the levels of crime and poverty and injustice.  We see the lack of care for infrastructure, the environment, our fellow human being.

All of this can leave us feeling overwhelmed and powerless. The needs of the world seem insurmountable.  We wonder if our efforts could truly make any difference. And so, slowly but surely, apathy begins to creep into our hearts, dampening our enthusiasm for life, and even our faith.

I think that many people find themselves grappling with apathy – that pervasive sense of indifference towards the issues that surround them. Whether it’s political apathy, social apathy, or apathy towards our spiritual lives, the effects are profound, both on society and our Christian walk.

When we turn a blind eye to the injustices and struggles faced by our neighbours, we perpetuate systems of oppression and inequality. Our indifference towards the care of our environment threatens the very planet we call home.

There are many good initiatives, and wonderful causes to become involved with.  So many in fact, that there are too many for us to be involved in everything.  But, does that mean we choose not to care about anything?

And what about spiritual apathy? This is that state of lukewarmness that we’re warned about in Revelation 3, addressed to the church in Laodicea, “15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

Shew! That’s a tough verse to read if we’re in that space of apathy with regards to our relationship with God.

This spiritual apathy shows up in our church attendance and commitment, our prayer life, our time in reading Scripture. We end up feeling less and less connected to God and His people.  Apathy robs us of the joy and fulfilment we should experience when we have a vibrant relationship with God and His people.

So, how do we address the attitude of ‘What difference can I make? The problems are so big, what I do doesn’t matter.’

Well, aren’t Christians people of hope? 1 Peter 1:3 tells us, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…”

Hope is a powerful thing.  If we have no hope, we give up. We settle for what is and expect no change, or growth or improvement.  But, if we believe in Jesus, that can’t be our attitude. He has promised us better and new, restoration and resurrection. We need to be working towards that now in building His kingdom.

It’s impossible to be passionate about absolutely every cause. We don’t have the capacity – emotionally or physically.  But, we should be passionate about serving God, in whatever way He calls us.  We should be passionate about growing our relationship with Him. We should be passionate about loving His people.

It’s been said that the opposite of love is not hate, but rather apathy.  We are called to love – we cannot be apathetic!

Let us each consider the level of our apathy, our indifference, and see where we can be challenged to become more engaged, to become more loving.

With love
Your friend and rector,