Sharing the Gospel With an Apatheist
August 10, 2023 | by: John Lee | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
Have you ever tried to share the gospel with someone to only be met with a response similar to “eh, I don’t really care about that”? If you have, you are not alone! In fact, this is an ever-increasing response when sharing the gospel with someone today. When looking at statistics, more and more people are identifying as the “religious nones”. This means that we are meeting more and more people who couldn’t care less about the gospel. A term that is beginning to take root in describing such people is “apatheism” – a combination of “apathy” and “theism”. Unlike the atheist who is passionate in their belief that there is no God or the agnostic who is passionate in their belief that no one can really know who this God is (if he does exist), the “apatheist” is passionate with indifference to the things of God. So, how do we begin to share the gospel with our apatheistic friends who simply seem like they couldn’t care less?
- Apatheism is More Than Indifference
The first thing we do well to remember is that our apatheist friend’s main problem is not merely indifference. In general, apatheism is actually rebellion and sin wearing the specific dress of indifference. Apathesim’s indifference is not a neutral standing point but rather seeks to dull, mute, and even extinguish the magnificent glory of God. Apatheism is just another avenue for simply suppressing the truth of God as revealed in Scripture (Rom. 1:18). At the core, apatheists, like all who have fallen short of God’s glory, are deeply in need of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).
The second thing we should remember is that our apatheist friends aren’t indifferent or disinterested to every facet of life. In other words, as image bearers living in God’s world they are wired to seek and desire joy, meaning, and security (Ecclesiastes 3:11). The problem since the fall of mankind has been that hearts corrupted by sin are inclined to search for such things outside of God, who Himself is the source of joy, meaning, and security.
In keeping these two things in mind, we must seek to address the heart of our apatheist friends, moving beneath the surface of their initial indifference.
- Pressing in and Pointing Towards
Once again, our apatheist friends are not indifferent to all facets of life. This presents a great starting point to press in and even call into question the very things that they gravitate towards to bring joy, meaning, and security into their lives. Scripture reminds us that to seek for joy, meaning, and security with things under the sun is a life of vanity (Ecclesiastes 1:1-2). The things under the sun do not have the ability to sustain such joy, meaning, and security especially in light of the reality of sorrows, trials, and death itself.
As we begin to press into and call into question the things that our apatheist friends endlessly grasp for to bring themselves lasting joy, meaning, and security, we can begin to point out their true need. In pointing out their true need, we can begin to point them towards the true hope found in the gospel of Jesus Christ alone.
As a brief example, I have an apatheist friend who deeply cherishes his hobbies, namely working out. This particular hobby is one that brings much joy and happiness to my friend. He devotes much of his time, resources, and energy for it. To be clear, hobbies, like working out, are wonderfully good gifts from God but they make for poor things to rest our lives upon. So, we press in, what happens if an injury arises that keeps him from working out? Or what happens when with age his body is unable to go to the gym and lift weights as he once did?
It is here, that we can begin to point my friend towards the hope found only in the gospel of Jesus who is our deepest and permanent joy, meaning, and security for He is the source of all these. Often times these pressing in questions may lead to opportunities to speak about the reality of sin, death, life, and who Jesus was and what He has done and is doing.
In all of this, we must be reminded that salvation is not brought about through methods but is the work and free gift of God (Romans 6:23). Take heart and pray boldly knowing that God’s Word never returns to him empty (Isaiah 55:11). Our call is not to change the heart of our apatheist friends, for only God can do so. Our call is to faithfully, boldly, and lovingly proclaim the excellencies of Christ through the gospel (1 Peter 2:9). The gospel of Jesus is truly the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). Let us ask God to do a great work in our apatheist friends’ hearts and for God to strengthen us as He sends us as His people to faithfully share the hope of Christ that is in us with those around us (1 Peter 3:15).
Soli Deo Gloria,
Pastor John Lee