In the midst of watching a movie before school this morning (I know my parenting skills are lax at times) my eldest had a question regarding one of the character’s excitement about becoming rich. “Daddy, why do people want to be rich”. I simply replied that a lot of people love money. His reply got me excited, “But daddy, we love people more than we love money, right?”.* What a response. All of a sudden I see in the words of my six-year old what life really is all about. And the weirdest part about all of this; his revelation helped to pull me out of my own apathy. I sometimes find myself wallowing in apathy without even realizing how I got there. But all the same I was in a lurch.
I think without knowing it might be because we are shaped by our desires. I know that seems like an obvious statement, but I don’t think we care enough about it to shape our desires before they shape us. Think about it this way: your stomach grumbles, you seek out food. If you are tired, you seek out rests. If you are irritable, you seek solitude. And none of these things are wrong (although sometimes broken by sin nature) as they are inborn desires, but do we allow them to control us without tempering them to the Word that is alive within us? In the parable of the sower in Mark 4, Jesus helps us to understand untempered desires and how they control His presence in our lives. “Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” Apathy, anxiety and misplaced desire render us ineffective in our daily walks.
I would go even further. Apathy and anxiety lead to misplaced desire which leads to the Holy Spirit being quenched in our lives. If I become apathetic towards my own life and the lives of those around me, all of a sudden I really could care less how my natural and sometimes broken inborn desires affect the lives of those with whom I come in contact with. If I become too anxious about the future and about how things are going to work out I stockpile securities for my self and all of a sudden the pursuit of wealth takes top priority in my life and those around me take a back seat. That’s why Dakota’s statement from above becomes so pivotal to this discussion, “We love people more than money”. Do we love people more than wealth? Does the thought of encountering someone for Christ stir us out of our apathy and anxiety? Does it curb our natural desires to think about the impact we may have on those around us?
You know, Christ set the example for us on this. When he heard about his cousin John’s death in Matthew 14 he just wanted to get away. His natural desire was to just be alone for a bit. But here is what happened, “…he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Compassion reshaped Christ’ desire. Compassion can draw us out of our own apathy, anxiety and misplaced desires. May we find a person upon whom Christ is calling us to shower compassion on today.
* I think he understands the goal of ministry better than some pastors…just an opinion.