Ignorant or Indifferent?
Ways Better Not Taken
The professor entered the classroom feeling a bit of angst over yet another depressing report about how Americans weren’t standing to the mark on the economic, political, social, and educational facts of life as he saw them.
The professor’s take on the situation could be summed up in two words: ignorance and indifference. He then challenged his students by asking them what they felt could be done to remedy the condition. One quickly replied, “I don’t know, and I don’t care.”
The story, of course, is apocryphal. A decade or so ago it was told as a joke to Americans who would not abide being accused of ignorance or indifference. Unfortunately, that was then; and this is now. And though I could cite a host of illustrations, I’ll confine myself to only a few that bear potentially devastating consequences for us all unless we are shaken back to the real world and its real problems.
In September 2010, a video was smuggled out of Pakistan. It documented the public stoning to death of a Muslim woman by members of the Taliban. Her crime was walking with a man, presumably not her husband. Her demise was excruciatingly prolonged as, one by one, her executioners meted out ”justice” under Islamic Sharia law, which they interpret as sacrosanct to their religion. This is the same judicial mindset that justifies murdering Christian converts from Islam (see “They Cry in Silence,”) and conducts “honor killings” in the United States and Europe, as well as in Muslim countries.
The periodic slaughter of Christians in Nigeria and other African nations passes with little notice, making one wonder why such atrocities are being ignored. To make matters worse, Sharia law, which advocates such brutality, is being promoted in non-Muslim countries as an acceptable legal alternative or adjunct for Muslim immigrants.
It seems the ignorance-is-bliss formula is being used as a convenient escape mechanism by people who wish to avoid unpleasant facts of life. In reality, however, ignorance is never a solution. It only postpones dealing with the problem until the ugly consequences take over to make disaster imminent. Pleading ignorance is never a way out. If you need a practical illustration, try telling a police officer he should not ticket you for speeding because you were ignorant of the speed limit.
Biblically, the warning signs are clear and serious. Addressing the matter of the suffering and persecuted, Proverbs 24 says,
Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Surely we did not know this,” does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds? (vv. 11–12).
How many times must people see the obvious before they give even a tepid response? Calculated, self-imposed ignorance seems to be the fashion, both inside and outside the Christian community.
The apathy inherent in self-induced mental and moral impotence has an even more serious side: Knowing the facts—assenting to the issue’s legitimacy—and then choosing to ignore them is even more pernicious. Yet we witness this attitude repeatedly in some evangelical Christian circles, particularly in the mystifying refusal to teach the whole counsel of God as it has been given to us in His Word. It is astonishing that some of our leaders say, in effect, “Although we believe the prophetic aspects of Scriptural revelation, we avoid teaching on end-times events in favor of a more suitable, life-related approach.”
Given the fact that the world is coming apart around us and the only reliable source of truth concerning what’s happening, where we are going, and our hope for the future is in God’s Word, indifference to the truth of prophecy is a spiritually indictable offense. We are not at liberty to excise major portions of divine revelation because we prefer something more upbeat and palatable. That is one of the most egregious errors of Replacement Theology: It obliterates indispensable portions of Scripture by declaring Israel nationally dead in favor of a superimposed formula declaring the church to be spiritual Israel.
Americans are now soberly asking themselves if there is a future for this country or if it will morph into something repressive and unrecognizable. Without the Bible’s chart for the future, there is a void. With the Bible, that void is filled by the visibly unfolding promises of God. To be indifferent to communicating such immutable truths is not an option.
The Heart of the Matter
What sets pure Christianity apart as a peerless faith of hope that believers, for more than 2,000 years, have been willing to give their lives for? And why would its enemies relentlessly attempt to exterminate people who would do them no harm? One answer is that our faith is incomparable. No amount of envy or animosity can destroy or diminish its appeal and attraction to heart-hungry, world-weary souls. Moreover, no death-sentence threats or roving hit squads are needed to keep believers in Jesus in the fold.
Consider Jesus’ ministry to the woman taken in adultery in John 8. Zealous Pharisees and scribes condemned her and demanded she be stoned. But Jesus dispersed them, saying if there was one among them who was so devoid of sin, he could cast the first stone:
Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (vv. 9–11).
There was no circle of scowling executioners stoning the poor woman to death that day. Before Jesus, she found grace and mercy with the admonition to be pure.
As we remember the resurrection of our Lord from the dead this time of year, we might well recall that it was Mary Magdalene, a formerly demon-possessed woman delivered from a notorious past, who was first to meet the risen Savior outside the empty tomb. Yes, there really is a difference between Christianity and other faiths. And we cannot be ignorant or indifferent to it because it is a difference that changes lives.