Apathy plagues our churches in more ways than one. Lukewarmness is a curse, and incurs the wrath of God as quickly as anything else. Truly, in this day of big yawns and drooping eyelids, it is high time Christians awake out of sleep.
But the alternatives we currently offer for replacing our apathy aren’t much better either. We don’t want to be seen as lukewarm, so we zealously seek relevance. We wouldn’t want the world to view us as lumpy or grumpy or irrelevant, so we diligently seek the praise of men. And we seek that praise in the form of relevance. We must keep up with the times. This is 2006, ya know.
In our zeal for relevance, we miss the glaring problem. To be relevant with men, we become irrelevant with God. Craving relevance, we become irrelevant. And our hankering for relevance only adds to our apathy. The more we care about relevance, the less we care about God.
We must be apathetic, but apathetic to the glory of God. While apathy is not usually a good word, there is a sense in which every God-fearing Christian must strive for apathy, and strive for it with all their heart. We must be apathetic towards the things of this earth, towards the temporal, so that we can be zealous of good works.
This is what is meant by "pious apathy". Piety is the opposite of apathy, yet apathy is a necessary part of genuine piety. Now, I understand that we often equate the word pious with the word Pharisee, but that kind of piety really isn’t. It pretends at piety, but quickly exposes itself as pietism, the spirit of the Pharisees. The truly pious man deeply reverences God, loves His character, and exercises himself in obedience to God’s will and in devotion to God’s service. And the truly pious man is apathetic.
The truly pious man couldn’t care less what the world thinks. He cares too much what God thinks. The truly pious man cares little about relevance in man’s eyes; he strives to be relevant in God’s eyes. Do the professors and elitists despise him? "Hang on" he says, "while I see if I care." Do the modern evangelicals mock him? He probably doesn’t even know who they are. Do backsliders call him shallow? When he comes back up for air, he can only shrug. He won’t be leaving the deep end to visit their wading pool anyway.
Besides, he’s too busy paying attention to pay attention. Bulls aren’t likely to notice when the gnat finally flies away. Come to think of it, pious apathy can be a blessing. May we learn not to care because we care so much. When we become too apathetic to care about relevance, then we will finally become truly relevant once again.