An onslaught of runny noses, head congestion, sore throats, and even the flu is on a rampage this year as winter approaches. This time of year, our sick lists and prayer lists grow more and more in length. It is almost always met unanimously with the colloquial phrase, “Yeah… there’s a lot of that going around lately.” You’ll hear this phrase in church foyers and doctors’ offices everywhere. A phrase like this is not to diminish the individual’s situation in the immediate context of the conversation. Instead, it’s just an observation that many people are going through the same unfortunate circumstance.
The Lord’s Church is no stranger to this phrase. However, there may be an application much greater than just the context of sickness or illness. There’s a lot of _________ going around lately when it comes to Christianity and being a follower of Christ! You could fill that blank with a litany of responses. However, it’s probable that the way you fill in that blank may be completely different from how I attempt to fill it. I want to focus on three things I see “going around lately” in Christianity.
There’s a lot of APATHY going around lately when it comes to Christianity. Over the past few years, it seems like more and more Christians are growing apathetic when it comes to their faith. Instead of dedicating themselves to assembling with the rest of the Body of Christ, it has become easier and easier to stay home. Instead of having a willing spirit to serve and an active faith, it has become easier and easier just to let someone else do all that stuff. Instead of asking what THEY can do for the Church, they ask what the CHURCH can do for them. There’s a lot of apathy going around lately. We can continue to blame the pandemic until we are blue in the face, but at some point—it is time to SNAP OUT OF IT!
God’s Word is clear regarding apathy and its place in a Christian’s life. SPOILER ALERT: it is not to even be in the Christian’s life. Paul told the Romans, “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in the spirit, serve the Lord.” Romans 12:11. Zeal is becoming harder and harder to come by these days. Instead of marching to Zion, many are just strolling along with a spirit of indifference. The fervor they once had has dissipated into apathy. Jesus makes it clear that there is no place for such Christians in the Kingdom of God, “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:16.
There’s a lot of ANXIETY going around lately when it comes to Christianity. The pandemic has taken a toll on the psyche of many Christians. Politics and the economy have done little to help either. More and more Christians seem to be operating from a spirit of fear. Instead of trusting God is in control, they have allowed anxiety to take the wheel. Instead of believing God will provide for and protect them, they have allowed anxiety to dictate their actions, thoughts, and inner peace.
Even though anxiety comes for each of us at one time or another, it still has no place in a Christian’s life. Paul told the Philippians, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7. Prayer was given to us by God Himself to be an avenue for all of us to leave our anxieties at the steps of the throne room of God. Peter writes, “Casting all your anxieties on him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7. Just because anxieties arise in our lives, doesn’t mean we have to sit in them. “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7.
There’s a lot of ADVERSITY going around lately when it comes to Christianity. People are grappling with the death of loved ones, dreaded medical diagnoses, and personal spiritual battles everywhere you look. God promises many beautiful promises in His Word, but one He didn’t give us was the absence of adversity. Instead, God’s Word is filled with the opposite promise—that we WILL have adversity as Christians. How we handle adversity defines the level of faith we have in God.
Paul told the Corinthians, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9. If anyone had a right to feel crushed, forsaken, and destroyed—it was Paul. However, those adversities only emboldened and illuminated the measure of faith he had in Christ. Jesus suffered the most adversity in His ministry on Earth, and He said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.
There’s a lot of apathy, anxiety, and adversity going around lately. It may seem impossible to avoid them as the days go by. Know that you are not alone. You are not the only one facing these challenges. But you may be the only one choosing to face them alone. God has given us a Family to help us get through these phases of life together through His Church. All you have to do is plug back in. The choice is yours. We’ll be here waiting to support you when you’re ready.
-Ben Hogan, Minister of Evangelism