Craig Groeschel - Indifference
Hey, welcome today to everybody at all of our different Life Churches, our open network churches, our family all over the world at Church Online. I am very excited that you're with us. It's a great weekend to be in church. We're launching a brand new message series. And before we dive into it, let me just tell you exactly what your local pastor is gonna be talking about as well. We are launching brand new life groups. If you're new with us, a life group is simply a gathering where we get together to do life together. We might meet once a week, maybe once every other week or so. This Wednesday night I'm getting together with my life group for our annual Valentine's gathering. We do life together.
I want you to pay careful attention to what you're pastor tells you about it. We're launching four-week life groups around the content of this message series, and for many of you, this is exactly what you need to become spiritually stronger. What are we gonna talk about for the next four weeks? I don't know, did any of you ever have the bracelets that were really, really popular that said WWJD? All of our churches, WWJD. Let me tell you where this came from, if you don't know. In 1896, there was a pastor, I think he was from Topeka, named Charles Sheldon who wrote a book called In His Steps. This little book went on to sell over 30 million copies. And in the book, this pastor essentially talked about small town living where different people would be faced with life situations and would ask themself, in this situation, what would Jesus do? A hundred or so years later, there's a movement that's kind of birthed, I don't know, where the people wore these bracelets, what would Jesus do?
What I wanna do in this message series is ask a question tied to it but one that's a little bit different. Not what would Jesus do, but what would Jesus undo? What are the things, that as we look at the red letters in your Bible, those are the words of Jesus, what were the things that really broke his heart, bothered him, created a real sense of dissatisfaction? What was it that Jesus saw, that he could not stand that he would undo? Four weeks, we're gonna talk about four different things. I will tell ya, next week is my favorite of all four. There'll be a little bit, some different stuff that happens, and I promise you, you'll be strengthened next week.
To introduce our topic for the day, let me tell you a little story. Have any of you ever found a gift for someone that you were really excited to give them, you gave it to them and they didn't seem to care? Anybody ever do that? That's just the worst ever. I had this happen, there's this guy who's a hero to me, and he's from another country. I researched him because I was gonna be at an event with him, talked to a bunch of people to find out what he loved, what he collected. I spent on this guy what I would normally spend on, oh, maybe about seven or eight individual gifts. In other words, I broke the bank to try to bless him, got him the very thing he collects, had it personalized, put some stuff on it, had it gift wrapped, traveled across the country, was talking to him, and I made this kind of little presentation, said after all that you've done for the world and for my family, what I'd like to do is bless you with this special gift and I pray that it's a big, it really ministers to you, and I gave him the gift, and we kept on talking.
He just put the gift on the table and didn't even look at it. Like, did you see what I just gave you? That cost me a lot of money and personalized, you know. And we just kept on talking, I thought, well he'll get to it later. We did the event, he ended up flying off to another country, I came back the next day to the little green room we were in and guess what was still sitting there on the table? Aw, thank you, mom, for your support, but the gift I gave him. I was devastated. I so wanted to bless him with this special gift, and he just completely had no regard, disregarded the gift and put it aside. What do you think Jesus feels like when he left heaven and came to earth, sacrificed everything for us. Tortured. Shed blood. Died. Kicked some devil tail. Rose from the dead. Gave us his living Word. Access to the very throne of God through prayer. Charged us with a spiritual mission. Gave us the same power that raised Christ from the dead, and we can go day in and day out often not even thinking about him, or the gift that he gave us.
What would Jesus undo? The first thing I wanna talk about in this message series is Jesus would completely undo what I'm gonna call spiritual indifference. Spiritual indifference. An idea that is not new to our generation, although our generation has been called the meh generation, right? M-E-H, how you doin', meh. What are you excited about, meh. Are you making a difference in this world, meh. Do you have spiritual purpose, meh. I almost sound like a cow, moo, meh, whatever it is. The meh generation. Jesus actually wrote seven different letters. If you've never studied these, they're really powerful letters to seven different churches, and these letters are recorded in the Book of Revelation. He wrote to one particular church that kinda was like the meh generation when it came to spiritual ideas. The church was in Laodicea, and this was a pretty powerful little community.
Laodicea had been destroyed by a big earthquake about 35 years prior to this letter, and since then they had rebuilt and they rebuilt strong. There were stadiums and theaters, and these lavish, public, baths, and shopping malls. Literally, think of a modern day Dubai. This of Las Vegas, I mean, this was like the hot place to be. The problem with this community is they had inadequate water supply, which you can imagine the trouble that would cause. So they built these elaborate aqueducts to bring water in from one of two places, from Colossae or from Hierapolis, which I just need to say as a side note, Hierapolis sounds like a place where superheroes are born, I don't know why, but I just had to say that. Colossae was known for its cold water. Cold water had a purpose, it's soothing, it's refreshing. Hierapolis was known for hot springs. Hot springs are thought of as medicinal, you can take the hot baths and such, and they would pipe in this water from these two places.
The problem is, by the time the water got to Laodicea, it was no longer cold, it was no longer hot, now it was dirty, it was tepid, and it was lukewarm. Jesus wrote into this community about the problem of spiritual indifference, and used words to really highlight what he was saying through an issue that they would have understood. Just the context, Revelation 3, let's look at it. Verses 15 and 16 is where we'll start. This is what Jesus said, he said, "I know your deeds". Everybody say I know your deeds. I know how you're living. In other words, I know what you did this week. If you look at your life this week, were you full of spiritual passion and energy for the things of the Kingdom of God, or were you more spiritually indifferent. Jesus says to them, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other". Both serve a purpose but you're not. He says, "So because you're lukewarm," like the water that gets to where you are, "because you're lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am about to spit you out of my mouth".
What was Jesus saying? You are spiritually stale. You are depressingly detached. After what I did for you, what I've called you to do, what I've empowered you with, you don't even seem to care. Here's what I want you to notice. When He said, "I'm about to spit you out", the very literal translation is, I want to vomit you. That's what it means. Jesus is saying this, your spiritual indifference, it doesn't just break my heart, it turns my stomach. After what I did, the fact that you don't seem to care at all, it makes me wanna spit you out. How you doin' spiritually? Meh, meh. Jesus would undo spiritual indifference. What I wanna do is kind of build a foundation and talk about two causes of spiritual indifference from the words of Jesus. There would be many, but I wanna focus on two today. What causes spiritual indifference in your life and in mine? The first thing is what I call the illusion of self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency.
This is what Jesus said in the next verse to the Laodiceans. He said, "You say I'm rich", in other words you've got all that you need. You say, "I've acquired wealth and I don't need a thing". I got everything I want. But then Jesus says, "You don't realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked". You don't realize that you think you have what you need but you're missing what matters most. So often today, quite honestly, when I'm talking to people, you know, at the gym or maybe at a restaurant or people, I'm next to someone on an airplane, and I'm talking to them about spiritual conditions and so I kinda talk to them about eternity, there's kinda this attitude like, yeah I'm good. I don't need that. I'm good. I got my car. I got my iPhone, I got it upgraded, you know. I got my Netflix, I got my Snuggie, I'm good. I got everything I need, and Jesus is saying, you have material stuff, but you are spiritually void. You're full of things in this world, but you're lacking what truly matters. Your life is full of stuff, but it's empty of meaning.
Why is it that we're so drawn to the things of this world and the things of this world never, ever satisfy? How you doin'? I'm good. I've got what I need. You think you have what you need, but you have no idea. You're wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, or naked. You're full of stuff, but you're spiritually bankrupt. It's the illusion of self-sufficiency. Another cause is what I would say would be the distractions of this world. What causes spiritual indifference? We're just simply distracted. Jesus told a parable about a farmer who was throwing some seed out, and some of the seed was starting to take root and to grow, but in Mark 4:19 Jesus said, "But the worries of this life", all the stuff you have to take care of, "the worries of this life, and the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the Word, making it unfruitful". I mean, let's call it what it is.
This is your story for some of you, and this has been my story. I hear the world, I'm challenged, I'm moved, I'm prompted, I'm stirred with something spiritually and suddenly there starts to be this spiritual life, and then suddenly life just happens! The kid gets sick, the car breaks down, someone is in need, one of my kids did something wrong and needs to be disciplined, and then we've gotta get him here and there's bills to pay and there's dishes to do and on and on and on and on. Ah! Life just happens. And it chokes out the Word. It's not like we don't care, we just got distracted. We're looking at Jesus and then all the stuff that happens, just kinda came in, we got overwhelmed. I still kinda love Jesus, I'm just tired right now. I just wanna relax, okay? Don't ever say you wanna watch Netflix and chill. I learned that this week. I just learned that. You know what that means. We had all these teenagers over, and we're tired and I said it too, in front of these, all my kids' friends, we're just gonna go watch Netflix and chill.
Those of you that know what that means now know I know what it means, too, but I didn't know what it means. My son said, "Don't ever say that out loud. You don't know what that means". Then he told me what it means, and then I said okay, we're gonna go watch Netflix and chill. But anyway, that's just a whole 'nother thing. So, if you don't know what that is, don't say it in front of your kids, unless you know what it means. Okay, two causes of spiritual, and I'm just workin' out my stuff, just workin' out my stuff. Self-sufficiency and distractions of this world. What happens? What do we see so much of in the world today?
Let me just kinda call it like it is. All over the world today, especially in our part of the world, my part of the world, there are so many people who have a little bit of Jesus. Just enough to help them maybe feel good about eternity. I pray and I was baptized when I was a kid. Just enough to say, yeah I'll go to church every now and then when I can and that kinda helps me feel better about myself. I'll do something to help somebody who's in need. Just enough to give them some sense of comfort and security, but not so much that it moves us to grieve over our own sinfulness, and inspires us to pursue Jesus and give him glory every single day. Just enough to make us feel better about ourselves, but not so much that it truly changes us.
What would Jesus undo? Lukewarm indifference didn't just break his heart. It made him wanna vomit. It turned his stomach. How do we know if we're living with this type of indifference? Just based on experience and over two decades as a pastor, I put down six indicators of things that I've seen in my life and in the lives of others as well. Living with lukewarm indifference. The first thing, if you're taking notes is, is how do we know if we're doing it?
Number one, we're more concerned with impressing people than living for God. We're more concerned with what everybody else thinks. Am I popular, do I blend, do you like my hair, do you like my shoes, do you like the music that I listen to, are we cool? I mean, are we vibin' on the same way? Do you like me? We're so obsessed with what people think. We forget about what God thinks, and Timothy even said this, "In the end times, there would be people who are lovers of themselves". Love, hey don't you like, yeah, yeah, it's all about me. Love, you like me, selfie, like it, like it, like me. Jesus said this, He said, "Woe to you, woe to you, when all people speak well of you". If we're so concerned with what people think about us, we can never, ever be living completely for what God thinks about us.
Number two, we're obsessed with life on earth, rather than eternity in heaven. It's all about what we can get now, things, things, things, things, things, the problem is, Scripture says, "If you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you".
Number three, we rationalize sin, and we live without truly fearing God. We rationalize sin. In our culture, we rename it to make it something not as bad, right? It's not adultery, it's an affair. It's not like pornography, it's adult entertainment. We give it a better name. We tell ourselves, I'm not that bad. I'm not as bad as everybody else because you're just bad at one little thing, and who are you to judge me? You've got your own issues, anyway! We rationalize our sin, without truly fearing God.
Number four, we believe in Jesus, but we rarely share our faith. We believe in Him, but if we already have him, we're okay. And so we really don't need to invite other people to know his goodness. Why is it that we often don't share our faith? I would be convinced it's because we don't really believe the Gospel's true because if we really believed that people without Christ are destined for a place in eternity, a very real place called hell, and if we love people at all, and believed in this, then we would let our light shine all the time. But yet, we live with this spiritual indifference.
Number five, we only turn to God when we need him. Rather than seeking him daily, we seek him when he benefits us. He's a tool in our toolbox, not a God that we worship and fear. Oh, bad day, bad day, God, God, come help me out, God. Oh thank you God, thank you God. Now back on my toolbox, I'm back to regular life. Oh everything's going good. Oh no, somebody's sick! Oh God, oh God, oh God, help, help, help, help, help, help, help. And then we put God back on the shelf.
Number six, and ultimately we end up recognizing that we're not much different from the world. What do we do? We're entertained the way everybody else is entertained. We watch the same movies whether they're pleasing to God or full of filth. We listen to the same music. We spend our money, essentially in the same way. We raise our kids according to the same values, then spend our life doing the very same things and yet we're not much different from this world. What are we? Without even knowing it, without ever intending it, one day we wake up and realize we are more spiritually indifferent.
Let me get as honest with you as I can, and what I'm about to tell you, I'm not proud of. Last night I told a different story. I told a story about being indifferent years ago. Let me just put it where it is. This is a difficult weekend for me to preach because I am so unusually distracted, crazy distracted. And I'm not gonna go into all the reasons why there are like kinda good reasons I could tell you about my work schedule, and you'd be like oh he's workin' hard. Well, you're workin' hard too, so that's one thing. But the craziest, dumbest, thing is I am distracted by something in this world that I don't care about and yet I'm finding myself caring about.
And that is just this, there's a person that Amy and I love dearly. Their family's in deep need, they need a car. I've thought for four or five years about getting a newer car. They need a car, I got a car that would be perfect for them. We'd like to bless them. They need a car now. If they get our car, I need a car. So I've been shopping for cars. Do you know how frustrating it is to shop for cars? Number one, they're stupid expensive. And my car works just fine. And I'm gonna pay x number of dollars for a car that works just as good as mine. So I'm looking at 'em going I don't have time for this, I don't care about cars, and so I'm trying to get us, to some kind of car. Next thing you know I'm in there going, well this one his this model and this one has this feature, oh and I am 50 and I have worked hard for a long time and I probably deserve a nice car, but I don't care about cars.
And I want this car and all the sudden I'm sittin' there going, I can barely even focus on preaching, because I'm distracted by some stupid thing in this world. I have an opportunity to speak life into tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people, and I'm wrapped up in lookin' for a stupid car. I hate that about myself. Serve Jesus! I'm gonna go look for a car. What happened? Life just kinda chokes out the passion. And some of you, you're gonna wake up and realize, after who he is, and what he's done, you've been living with spiritual indifference. You're not cold, there's a purpose for that. You're not hot, you're not passionate, there's a purpose for that. You're just kinda, meh. Wanna go to church today? Meh. Those of you that are home 'cause it's cold. Meh. You wanna be a part of a life group, biblical community? Meh. You wanna use the gifts that God has given you to bless people? Meh. Do you wanna be generous and let go of the love for this world and use what you have to be a blessing to someone else? Meh. You wanna lead someone to Christ? Meh. I gotta go car shopping. And this attitude doesn't just break his heart, it turns his stomach. I wanna vomit you out.
What would Jesus undo? He would undo spiritual indifference. After what he gave to us, the gift, we put it aside, and just leave it there. For those of you that recognize you are a follower of Christ and yet you become more spiritually indifferent, what do you do to reignite the fire? What do you do to consistently live with passion for Jesus, because let's be honest, life just happens. We don't mean to but we just, it just chokes it out. Let me tell you what I would normally tell you, and then I'm gonna tell you what I would tell you, what I'm going to tell you. Normally I would tell you, and this would be good advice, I would give you kind of a list of things to do to help the passion.
And this is good advice, spend time in God's Word. It's his living Word. Talk to him daily in prayer. Fellowship with him, don't just talk, but listen. Share your faith with people who are lost. Fellowship with other believers. Pray for each other, that you may be strengthened. Worship God daily as just a part of who you are, to overflow of your heart. Turn from your sin. When the Holy Spirit convicts you of something displeasing to God, confess that before God, turn away from it, and pursue Jesus in passion and righteousness.
Those are all good things. The problem is, if I give you all those things, you're overwhelmed. You're not gonna do anything at all. And so what I wanna do is tell you what I've been trying to do. One simple thing. And this is one of the most revolutionary thoughts I can give you. In fact, I would almost say, this early in the year, that this may be the best piece of advice that I could give you in all 42 weekends of church this year. This may be it, this is early, so take it or leave it. If you don't do this then it may not, it may go downhill from here, is what I'm telling you, okay? What is one thing you can do to reignite the spiritual fire. If you're takin notes it is this. Every day do something that requires faith. Every day. Every single day do something that requires faith. Every day. Every day, let the spirit of God lead you to do something that you can not do on your own, something that requires faith.
Let me tell you the story behind this revelation. Amy and I we do this journal, it's a five-year journal, it's really, really cool because you don't have to write a lot, which is perfect for me. You write about this much, until you can see what happened on this day this year and then you can see the year before, and the year before that, and the year before that. I've been doing this now for four years, I'm looking at my journal, and I've kinda been noticing, well this day looked almost exactly like this day last year, and this day that year, and yesterday and probably tomorrow. I live a relatively boring life. My days are kinda like Groundhog's Day. Monday I go to work and I study and I do some meetings and I go work out and I come home and I run kids everywhere. Tuesday, I go to work and I study and I do some meetings and then I work out, and I come home and I run my kids everywhere. Wednesday, I go to work, I study, I do some meetings, I work out, I run my kids everywhere, I look at Amy, we kind of wink at each other and we say we're too tired, and we go to bed and I do the same thing the next day.
It's Groundhog's Day, day after day after day, and I started realizing like, where's the fire in this? And so I was praying about it, and I really felt like the Holy Spirit said to me, just do something that requires faith. One thing, every single day. Every single day. So the end of my day, I'm asking myself, what did I do today that required faith? How do you reignite the spiritual fire? Do one thing that requires faith. What might that be? Maybe you're gonna stand up for someone that others are making fun of, even though you don't know what they're gonna think of you but you just go ahead and do it even if you're gonna be mocked. Maybe you give a gift to someone that stretches you out of your comfort zone because you really could use that or you could sell it but you just go ahead and be obedient and be a blessing to someone and that takes faith. Maybe you apologize to someone that you hurt, knowing that they may not receive it well, or maybe you choose to forgive someone that hurt you, even though they don't deserve forgiveness and they haven't asked for it.
Maybe you volunteer to pray out loud at your next life group meeting, even though you're terrified to pray out loud. Maybe, for some of you, it's that you actually take a step this week, go to a life group, and see what God might do through your life if you're available to minister to others and let them minister to you. Maybe it's to reach out to someone that God puts on your heart, someone without the life of Christ, and very simply show them who Jesus is. Maybe it's you expose yourself to something that breaks your heart and makes you righteously anger on behalf of the things of God. Maybe you pray for something that is absolutely impossible by man, but perhaps possible by God. Or you attempt something that on your own you could never, ever do it. You need the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit to help anything meaningful come out of this. Why does this matter? Because Scripture teaches us this, that without faith, it is impossible to please God. If we are not living by faith, we cannot please God, and "Faith," James said, "without works is dead". Dead! Dead!
Christ is life! Faith brings life! When we're living by faith, what tends to happen? Instead of being consumed with what people think about us, all of the sudden we are consumed with what God thinks about us. When we're living by faith, suddenly we're living for what lasts, not for what does not last. Instead of rationalizing sins, what do we do? We confess them before God. His spirit purifies us from all unrighteousness. Suddenly, we're bold in spirit. People are amazing by our spiritual boldness. Suddenly we're not just turning to God whenever we need him, but we're turning to him every moment of every day because we must abide within the vine that strengthens us. And then one day we wake up and realize, we're different. We're different. We haven't been conformed to the image of this world, but we've been transformed. It's not that, not that we're lukewarm. We wake up with a purpose.
Now, believe me when I tell you this isn't the easy way. Not at all. It's easier not to care. It's easier not to care. Amy came out of her prayer time the other day just bawling her eyes out, I'm like, what's the matter? What was the matter, she said, "I'm just hurting for so many people that I'm praying for". Stuff like that will happen to you. You'll care. It's easier not to care, but let me tell you what, it is so much better to hurt with a purpose than it is to exist without one. What would Jesus undo? He would undo spiritual indifference. I wish you were one, I wish you were the other. But because you don't really care about what I did for you, I'm about to spit you out of my mouth. Spiritual indifference doesn't just break his heart, it turns his stomach, so what do we do, very simply, every day, at least one thing that requires faith.
God, today I need you, your power, your presence, your spirit, your strength, your truth, to help me do what you've called me to do. And watch as the fire starts to return. So Father stir us up. Ignite a spiritual fire within the hearts of everyone in our church family. God may we never be guilty of half-hearted worship, apathetic ministry, God, that may we be overflowing with passion for the things that matter to your heart.
All of our churches, as you reflect in prayer today, those of you would say, you know what, yes, I am a follower of Christ, but Craig, I've got my own version of your car story, there's the things of this world, it's just gonna happen, I didn't mean it, but I am more indifferent right now, I'm a little bit more lukewarm, and I want that fire back, lift your hands now, all over the place, lift them up now, lift 'em up now.
God thank you so much for speaking to so many people today. I pray that your Holy Spirit would do heart surgery on us, God, cut away the love for the things of this world, God. May we be consumed with the desire to glorify you and please you in all that we do. I pray, God that we there are those who would take a step of faith this week and say, yes, I'm gonna be a part of a life group and in our life groups, we're gonna talk about it point blank, this is my step of faith. This is what I'm doing today, hold me accountable. Every single day, one thing that requires faith, one thing that requires faith, and God, we're gonna please you by living by faith. We're not walking by sight, we are walking by faith, God. Teach us to depend on you. Stir up the gifts within us, God. May our heart break for the things that break your heart. God, give us a passion to serve you every single day, glorifying you for who you are, for what you've done. God, may our church be full of people passionate for representing you, living for you, serving you every single day.
As you keep praying today at all of our churches, there are some of you, you thought you were a Christian, but you realize you're not. This was me growing up. I went to church, I thought I was, but I was not. I believed in God, but he hadn't transformed my heart by the grace of God. There are others of you, and ain't nobody think you're a Christian the way you're livin' right now, you're hurting though in the middle of your sin, go ahead and try it all, try it all, where do you end up? Hurting, alone, desperate, and hitting rock bottom. When you hit rock bottom, where you gonna look? It's time to look up, it's time to look up, it's time to look up. This is how Jesus closed his letter to the Laodiceans.
He said this, he said, "Behold," listen up, he said, "I stand at the door and I'm knocking". I want into your life. He says, "I stand at the door and knock". Then he says, "If anyone," listen to me, "if anyone," doesn't matter who you are, what you've done, how bad you've been, "anyone who opens the door," in other words, anyone who says yes to me, "I will come in". there are those of you God brought here for this very, very moment. Who is Jesus? He is the son of God, sinless and perfect in every way. He shed his blood, died on the cross that we could be forgiven. On the third day, God raised him from the dead, so anyone who calls on his name would be saved. He's knocking, are you letting him in?
And all of our churches, those who say, yes Jesus, come in, forgive my sins, I turn from my sins, I turn toward you, when you call on him, he'll forgive every sin, and he will make you brand new. Not only will he forgive your sins, but he came to give you spiritual life. That's why he came. He's knocking, who's letting him in? All of our churches, those who say yes, I turn from my sin, I turn toward him, Jesus come into my life. That's your prayer, lift your hands now.
All over the place, lift them up. Right back here, praise God for you, sweetheart right here, others of you, right back here toward the back, right back over here, lift 'em high. Let me just find you, meet you eye to eye, others today. Right over here in this section, I need his grace. Right back over here on this side. Church Online, you click right below me, somebody in this house, why don't you give God some praise for people finding new life in Christ. Others today, I need his grace, I need his grace. I need his grace, pray aloud, everybody together.
Heavenly Father. I trust you. To save me. Forgive me. Make me new. Jesus, be first. In my life. Fill me with your spirit. So I could follow you. And live for you. Give me your purpose. That I could live. And glorify you. Every single day. My life is not my own. I give it to you. In Jesus name, I pray.