Ever drive a car long distance without consciously realizing how you got there? Once operating a motor vehicle becomes so automatic, you may occasionally go into auto pilot mode mentally and start thinking about other important matters. Relying on muscle memory doesn't just happen with driving, though. We tend to do this with other mundane tasks too, like doing laundry, riding a bicycle, even walking. Once a task becomes routine or ordinary, we can tend to go through the motions, totally unaware of how we got there in the first place. The same thing happens in our spiritual lives, and this is called spiritual apathy.
WHAT IS SPIRITUAL APATHY?
If you are a Christian, perhaps you can remember the excitement you had when you first discovered your faith in Jesus. Maybe when you came to Christ, you finally felt alive for the first time. You were wide awake with a fresh perspective, excited for the new future set before you. But what happens when that initial excitement fades? Has your faith life become dry and boring? Maybe sin doesn’t seem like a big deal anymore. Perhaps you got tired in your walk with Christ. Honestly, it’s easy to go through life feeling this way… Though it appears harmless at first, this sleepiness (or apathy) is a dangerous spiritual condition that can rob us of the joy we once found in God.
Spiritual apathy can creep up over time and, because of that, it can be hard to recognize at first. Perhaps your faith life became stale after a year of lockdowns and social distancing. As we reopen Liquid campuses this Summer as part of our Homecoming, many of us are just now realizing the toll that isolation can really have on our spiritual lives. Many of us have been starved for spiritual community. So how do we recover from this?
RECOGNITION IS KEY
For me, spiritual apathy was a constant struggle throughout 2020 — and it still is today. As a freshman in college when the pandemic hit, it hurt to leave all my friends and professors to go back home for the rest of the Spring semester, not knowing if I’d even come back for the Fall. When those connections get cut off so suddenly, it's easy to just feel like a zombie — alive but not fully there. Isolated. It’s not easy to recover from this dangerous spiritual condition, but God used a combination of His Word and the words of people He placed in my life to help me wake up from this zombie-like state.
While this was the case for me, overcoming spiritual apathy may not happen in the same way for you. While it's tempting to want a simple, three-step process on how to recover from spiritual apathy, there is no “one size fits all” formula for getting out of your spiritual slumber. Each person struggles with apathy a little differently, so we’ll need make space for God to work uniquely in our lives and wake us up. You can start with prayer: ask God to meet you where you are and speak into your life. We can come before Jesus and ask him to work on our hearts, to do something in our lives that awakens us to the reality of his incredible grace and love for us.
PRAY "DANGEROUS" PRAYERS
Maybe that’s praying a “dangerous prayer” — in other words, a prayer that calls you to a form of obedience to him. For example, when you pray “break my heart for what breaks yours,” God may pull you out of your comfort zone to pursue a God-given burden he’s placed on your heart. Or, when you pray “make me bold,” God may open up opportunities for you to take a step of faith and walk in boldness. Maybe it’s asking God to put the right people in your life so you can vulnerably share about your struggles with apathy or whatever else it may be. You never know how God will use your experiences to help someone else who may be going through something similar.
WHEN GOD DOES THE IMPOSSIBLE
Sometimes it’s not until we hit rock bottom that we awaken from our spiritual apathy. That is what happened in Jonah’s life. Stuck inside a fish’s stomach for three days and three nights, the disobedient prophet couldn’t get any lower. Jonah had to be shaken out of his disobedience to God. He literally hit rock bottom, yet God showed Jonah grace when he turned from his sin and called out to God (Jonah 1:17-2:10). Through Jonah’s deliverance from a seemingly impossible situation, God awakened Jonah to his apathetic condition. And God can do the same for you!
ASK GOD TO USE THIS SEASON
Though we never want to ask for it, experiencing hard times can be one of the best things for our faith journey. Like Jonah, challenges like the pandemic may have the ability to wake you up out of your spiritual apathy instead of casting you further into it. When you awake from a season of spiritual slumber, God is the one actively doing something in your life that awakens you to the reality of your situation. He is the one who gives you a reason to rejoice, even when you don’t “feel” it (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Wherever you are in your faith walk right now, you can reach out to God and ask him to use this time in your life — any struggles or apathy you are combatting — to grow you in your relationship with him. Surrender your heart to him so that he may once again fill you with the peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:6-7).
To help you continue to grow in your faith journey, check out this additional content from Liquid Church:
- ARTICLE: How To Get Out Of A Spiritual Slump - College student Alex Soares shares three pillars of his faith journey that helped him personally seek God and find revival in his faith life. Click here to read.
- ARTICLE: How To Change Your Frame Of Mind - In this summary of Pastor Tim's message from our Mastermind series, learn how pivoting the way you frame your thoughts can change the way you look at life. Click here to read.
- MESSAGE: Finding Happiness In Hard Times - In this message from the series Crazy Happy, learn from Jesus' most famous sermon how you can find a joy that doesn't fade. Click here to watch on YouTube.