The life of the preacher is not getting any easier. It takes the faith of a giant to keep on preaching in season and out of season. Right now, it appears we are out of season as our culture dives further into sin. God’s call to proclaim the good news of the gospel is clear, but who has an ear to hear? The discipline required to preach to God’s people three or more times per week is demanding at the best of times, but when you must fight apathy within your own soul, and the souls of others, you need much more than flesh and blood to keep you going.
Apathy comes in many dimensions: like the sight of an empty parking lot or empty pews. It can sink the heart of the keenest preacher. In bygone days people believed, “It’s the preacher’s job to fill the pulpit and the people’s job to fill the pews.” Today, that adage has turned on its head. Apathy is robbing the zeal of the preacher and the worshiper. Oh, for the days when churches were filled and “It was noised that he [the Lord] was in the house.” Trying to minister in a who-cares-culture, today’s preacher and all who would hear him, must truly care for souls, for truth, and for the honour of the Lord’s great name.
To fight apathy, we need to remember that there is much more before us than behind us. Libraries of church history books rehearse the enthusiasm of revival times, but we need to remember that God’s work of redemption is over only when the last ransomed soul is safely home in the Father’s presence. We need to remember also that there is no apathy in heaven: not among the saints, the angels, nor in the Lord Himself, who reigns over the Church from the Father’s throne. Recently, I have been greatly stirred with the sights and sounds of heaven revealed in the book of Revelation where the angel flies forth to minister:
“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Revelation 14:6-7).
On the eternal day, excitement over gospel victories will fill heaven. There will be no apathy among the nations then, for judgment will have come. The appearing of the Lord in power and glory at the sound of the last trumpet will simultaneously usher saints into glory and summon rebellious sinners into judgment and on to perdition. The present sleep of death that has fallen upon churches and Christian nations is the devil’s ploy. He is content when men are content to live without God.
The antidote to lethargy is always keeping heaven’s activities in view. There is no night in heaven, but saints are continually singing, “Worthy is the Lamb”. Pray that the Spirit of God would baptize your preacher to personally taste the sweetness of heaven in his own soul, so that he delights to preach the everlasting gospel far and wide.
If apathy has befallen you, shake it off. Pray for a renewal of the Holy Spirit’s power to fill your soul. Use the means of grace – prayer, preaching, and praise – which God has ordained to edify and revive His people. Then we will put apathy to flight in each of our churches, and then we will put feet to our prayers to reach a lost world.