It’s been a rather tumultuous summer so far this year. We’ve seen race riots flare up because of police-related shootings, raising calls for more accountability for cops. Three theater shootings have occurred in about a month’s time, bringing to the forefront again gun control versus gun rights. The Supreme Court passed a landmark decision legalizing homosexual marriage. And, Planned Parenthood has been exposed by released videos for negotiating and selling the parts of aborted babies. Anyone who spends even only a small amount of time on social media or on the television has been inundated with opinions and arguments from various sides of the issues.
Because of the non-stop nature of our news cycle, it is easy to become weary of listening to the news about police-related shootings, gay marriage, and Planned Parenthood. The feeling of being overwhelmed with the news sets in, which can lead to a general sense of apathy toward today’s hot issues regardless of which side the news comes from. Though this tendency is natural, it behooves us as Christians to avoid such apathy and to remain aware of what is going on in our culture.
While feeling overwhelmed is a natural reaction to the ongoing news cycle and discussion over shootings, gay marriage, and Planned Parenthood (and any other topic that floods our news media and social media), we must be careful that apathy not take root in our hearts. Once apathy sets in, we are lulled into inactivity, choosing to ignore atrocities that must be met with prayer and the truth of the Gospel. There is perhaps no greater weapon Satan uses than the apathy expressed by the children of God toward the lies and injustices propagated by our culture.
I am reminded of the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus Christ spent the early morning hours agonizing in prayer, knowing he would soon be bearing the sin of the world on the cross. The disciples followed Jesus to the Garden, but they did not join him in prayer; instead, they were overcome by weariness (it was late into the night) and fell asleep. Twice Jesus woke them up, but each time the disciples succumbed to sleep. After waking the disciples the second time, Jesus says to Peter, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41, ESV).
Peter would soon deny the Lord Jesus, fulfilling Jesus’ words given just recently of Peter’s denial.The temptation Peter would face was that of denying Jesus in the face of opposition and tribulation. Jesus exhorted Peter to pray that he may not give in to this temptation. Instead, Peter, like Jame and John, slept as Jesus agonized over what would soon transpire.
Jesus’ words to the disciples in the Garden can, I believe, apply to Christians today. However, instead of literally falling asleep in the face of upcoming tribulation, we are lulled into a sleep-like state of apathy. The seemingly unending news and debate wearies our minds and hearts; however, we need to remain alert and in prayer for what lies ahead in the coming days. Weariness and apathy causes us to turn a deaf ear to the lies and injustices of our culture; being alert in prayer helps us to be ready for action and to respond with the truth of our Lord God.
I write this not as one who is in the thick of battle, calling out those who are lulled into inactivity. Rather, I am writing as one who struggles with the temptation to tune out the news and debate. I grow weary of the Facebook posts and the talking heads that seem to belabor points as they and their opponents talk past one another. I can then quickly become apathetic and, some times, cynical. Thus, instead of praying for our government or about the hot button issues of our day, I gloss over them by focusing only on those issues that impact me immediately – my family, my church, my work, etc.
However, such an approach does not make the pressing issues of today go away or that less important. Nor does it lessen the responsibility I have as a believer to pray that the truth of God would prevail in such dark times. So, may we – may I – “watch and pray that [we] may not enter into temptation.”