Battling the Culture of Indifference
I’ve been reading the news quite a bit over the past few weeks, and it is amazing what is being passed off as “normal.” A couple of weeks ago, a school district in Maine began distributing birth control to middle school girls who are ages 11-14. For the past few years, a teacher in San Diego has been and still is teaching his 3rd grade students that homosexuality is not only normal, but should be embraced. And a group in Florida has been attempting to have specialty license plates made that endorse and encourage abortions. What has happened to the good old US of A? We are becoming a nation, a culture, of indifference in the name of so called tolerance.
As a nation, we consume more goods per person, own more things per person, and still remain a nation that is unsatisfied with what we have. We want more. But every time we think we accomplish more, we do so at the expense of God. What do I mean by that? We have small percentages of people that don’t like things like “under God” in the pledge of allegiance. So, to maintain their rights to free speech, the courts removed that phrase from the pledge for a short time. Just this past week, the federal government banned the recitations made when folding a flag for a fallen soldier in the 125 national cemeteries. Why? One person, yes one person, complained because when they fold the flag, they recite the significance of each fold:
The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.
The second fold is a symbol of our belief in the eternal life.
The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks who gave a portion of life for the defense of our country to attain a peace throughout the world.
The fourth fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war for His divine guidance.
The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, "Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong."
The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
The seventh fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.
The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered in to the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it flies on mother's day.
The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood; for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great have been molded.
The tenth fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.
The eleventh fold, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The twelfth fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost.
When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, "In God we Trust."
This nation was founded on Godly principles, and now God and His principles are being removed all so quickly. What we can’t have, we want; and we want it yesterday no matter what the price. Instead of putting God fist, we have kicked Him to the curb. As a Christian, we need to battle this culture of indifference and bring God back to the forefront. How do we do that? Turn with me to Haggai chapter 1. If you’re looking for Haggai, turn to Matthew, then go back three books: Matthew, Malachi, Zechariah, Haggai. Haggai chapter 1:
1 In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came through Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest:
2 “The Lord of Hosts says this: These people say: The time has not come for the house of the Lord to be rebuilt.”
3 The word of the Lord came through Haggai the prophet:
4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?”
5 Now, the Lord of Hosts says this: “Think carefully about your ways:
6 You have planted much but harvested little. You eat but never have enough to be satisfied. You drink but never have enough to become drunk. You put on clothes but never have enough to get warm. The wage earner [puts his] wages into a bag with a hole in it.”
7 The Lord of Hosts says this: “Think carefully about your ways.
8 Go up into the hills, bring down lumber, and build the house. Then I will be pleased with it and be glorified,” says the Lord.
9 “You expected much, but then it amounted to little. When you brought [the harvest] to your house, I ruined it. Why?” [This is] the declaration of the Lord of Hosts. “Because My house still lies in ruins, while each of you is busy with his own house.
10 So on your account, the skies have withheld the dew and the land its crops
11 I have summoned a drought on the fields and the hills, on the grain, new wine, olive oil, and whatever the ground yields, on the people and animals, and on all that your hands produce.”
12 Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak, and the entire remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the words of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. So the people • feared the Lord.
13 Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, delivered the Lord’s message to the people, “I am with you” —the Lord’s declaration.
14 The Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, the spirit of the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. They began work on the house of Yahweh of Hosts, their God,
15 on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year of King Darius.
The main theme throughout the book of Haggai is that we should put the Lord first. So, the book was written to urge the people to put aside their desires and rebuild the Lords house. Haggai begins with a formal rebuke of the people. Verses 2-5 [read v. 2-5] Haggai begins by giving them their own excuse for why the Lord’s house was incomplete. The people claimed that it was not the time to complete the work. This sounds like our response as a nation, “God, yeah, I’ve heard of Him, but He’s in the way of what I want.” So we push God aside as a nation, and individually as well. Think of the last time that you got that feeling in the pit of your stomach that said not to do something, but you did it anyway. That feeling was the Holy Spirit convicting you, your conscience baring witness, but in pursuit of what you wanted, you pushed the feeling aside. That is what Haggai is talking about; the fact that Judah was pushing God aside to do what we want.
In response to “these people,” we see a shift in the Lord’s naming of His people. Verse 2 [read v. 2, emphasize “These people”]. Rather than the traditional, “My people,” the Lord calls them “This people,” or “These people.” It is not a banishing of the people, but a strong sense of disgust that He displays to them. Exodus 20:3-5 says,
3 Do not have other gods besides Me.
4 Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth.
5 You must not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers’ sin, to the third and fourth [generations] of those who hate Me
So what are the idols of today? Fame, power, money. Are you a slave to money? Is money what consumes your thoughts – what you have isn’t enough and you want more? Then money has now become an idol.
For those of us that want to look at the commands that Jesus gives us; Jesus tells us that the greatest commands are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength,” and to love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:30-31) If your mind is consumed by getting something and your strength put into getting it, you have put God on the back burner for your ambitions and that leads God to anger. His disgust is deserved, then, when we don’t listen to Him. We must put the Lord first; but people in Haggai’s day, just as in the times today, were concerned for themselves alone, and would get to “the God thing.” Sound familiar?
What are the consequences to pushing God aside? Verses 5-7. [read v. 5-7] So the consequences were these: although the people sowed the fields in abundance, the harvest was meager. They ate, but were still hungry. They drank, but remained thirsty. They earned wages, but the money quickly disappeared. They did everything for themselves, but didn’t think to seek God’s plan and guidance. Soon, their eyes were opened, and they began to listen.
In verse 8, we find that they are not only willing to listen, but God gives them the solution, and that is to rebuild the temple. The people did just that. [read v. 8-15] We need to rebuild God’s temple in our lives and put Him first.
How can we apply a lesson that was given to Judah in 520 BC to today – how do we begin to battle the culture of indifference? Well, first we must look to God for direction in our own lives. Listen to this, if we are to make any difference in the lives of those around us, we must begin with ourselves.
Have you pushed God aside to do what you want? Maybe you’ve been feeling a tug to do something like speak to someone about Jesus, accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, or spend time in devotion; but you have been putting it off because there just wasn’t the time, or the time wasn’t right. It is time today to commit to the Lord that you will begin to listen.
Once you have put your own spiritual life in order, others will take notice because you will no longer be living for yourself but actually, and maybe for the first time in your life, you will be working for God. If each one of us can make that commitment and follow through, that is, we each decide today to begin truly living for Christ and setting aside our pettiness, self centeredness, and greed; imagine the difference it could make in this community. There are ____ people here today. That is a start. Now each of us need to live for Christ, and others will follow suit. When we make this decision, we will be blessed in God’s own way and in His own time.
Look at this church. We are able to have a church; and in some countries you can’t come to a Christian church to worship without being threatened. We have been blessed with the great people we have here to fellowship with. And God has been blessing this church in growth. The hay ride last week; 60-70 people came to a church sponsored event. Not only that, but we reached some people, and maybe for the first time, with the love that only Christ can give. Can you make that commitment today?
As Mark comes up and leads us in a song of invitation, I invite you to interact with God. If you need to set something straight in your walk with the Lord, take this time to do so. Maybe you need to make a commitment to the Lord by asking Him into your life as your Lord and Savior. Or maybe it’s time to join this fellowship of believers. What ever the case may be, take these few minutes to reflect and talk to the Lord. If you would like someone to pray with, I will be up front here, feel free to come and we can pray together. Together we can an impact on the culture of indifference for the Lord. Let’s pray.
 Pete Chagnon, "Maine School Offers Birth Control To Students In Grades 6-8," One News Now, October 19, 2007, http://www.onenewsnow.com/2007/10/maine_school_offers_birth_cont.php (accessed October 26, 2007).
 Rusty Pugh, "Pro-family Activist Outraged at Teacher’s Homosexual Indoctrination," One News Now, October 25, 2007, http://www.onenewsnow.com/2007/10/profamily_activist_outraged_at.php (accessed October 26, 2007).
 Rusty Pugh, "Pro-abortion Specialty Plates Proposed in Florida," One News Now, February 23, 2007, http://www.onenewsnow.com/2007/02/proabortion_specialty_plates_p.php (accessed October 26, 2007).
 Duane Streufert, "Flag Folding," The Flag of the United States of America, February 10, 2005, http://www.usflag.org/foldflag.html (accessed October 26, 2007).