The Crossway Podcast

Why You Shouldn't Be Apathetic About God

November 04, 2020 Crossway Church
The Crossway Podcast
Why You Shouldn't Be Apathetic About God
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we talk about how to understand the significance of God in a way that can help us shake off any apathy we might have toward Him.

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Josh Arruda:

Hey everyone, and welcome to the Crossway Podcast. My name is Josh and I am here with Chandler Jackson, our student worship pastor, just like always. So today, we wanted to expand upon the message from Sunday a little bit, and maybe in a kind of a little bit of a different way. But we have as a church have been going through a sermon series called "Beneath The Surface" where he we have been sort of looking at emotions and what that looks like from a spiritual perspective and how we navigate our emotions and facilitate our emotions and things like that. And this past week, our Creative Arts Pastor, Kelli Lafferty, gave the message and she talked about apathy. And she talked about the effect that apathy can have on our spiritual life. And she gave us some practical advice on how to help us get out of a state of apathy and think about that. So if you haven't seen that message, you can check it out on our YouTube channel or on the church center app. But today, we wanted to kind of look at a version of apathy that goes even a little bit deeper, I think, than what Kelli talked about on Sunday morning.

Chandler Jackson:

Yeah. See, because there's a deeper question. That can be sort of at the root of the sort of source of the apathy. And it's not just a question of, why does my relationship with God matter? But it's really the question of why does it matter that there's even a God for me to have a relationship wit4h? And that's a deeper question for many people, regardless of where they actually find themselves in relation to God. So like, maybe you're not quite ready to buy into this whole Christianity thing. You're not really sure about it, you have a bunch of questions, and you're not really sure why a relationship with God really even matters? Or maybe you are a Christian, right. And you do find yourselves in situations like what Kelly mentioned on Sunday, where you've, you found yourself in the state of apathy, and you want, you want to really badly care about your relationship with God, but you just are, you're sort of stuck in this place where you can't really bring yourself to do it. And it's really hard for you to really understand, or for you to see the significance that that God brings to the world right now. Right, because sometimes as Christians, I feel like we can get tunnel vision into the significance that God brings to like, what happens when you die?

Josh Arruda:

Yeah, like the afterlife or Heaven

Chandler Jackson:

But not necessarily, what that means for us right now as we go through our day to day lives. And I really want to point out a key distinction between those two questions I mentioned at the beginning, the why does my relationship with God matter vs. Why does it matter that there's even a God for me to have a relationship with? Because the first question really has to do with how apathy affects you. Where you're dealing with the question of your relationship with God in general.

Josh Arruda:

You're sort of bought in but you're demotivated or unmotivated or something like that.

Chandler Jackson:

Yeah. And the second question gets down to the deeper issue that may very well be the source of our apathy itself. And that's our understanding of the the implications of the very existence of God. Not just our relationship with him, but what does it mean for the world that there is a God?

Josh Arruda:

Or why questions like this are even important to be asking in the first place, especially if you're not a Christian. Or you don't know what to think about all of these things. Or maybe you are bought in, but there are times, like Chandler said, where you find yourself trying to see the importance of you developing your relationship with God or something. In fact, I see this happen a lot in students, so I volunteer, Chandler obviously does, he works with students and I volunteer with the student ministry a lot. And something that I see that's common to a lot of students is just a general apathy to all of the stuff that we talked about.

Chandler Jackson:

It's not even like a resistance to, it's just a "I don't care about."

Josh Arruda:

And that might be a product of the culture, right, like Christianity, belief in God, faith in God, that's very common place, especially in the south, in a city like Vicksburg. It's just like, a thing that people are part of people's families. And it's something you're raised with, and maybe, because it's so familiar people lose an understanding or have never even seen a need for understanding the significance of the God question, or the Christianity question. And so yeah, I see that happen a lot in students. And it's something that needs to be navigated because there really is like this, this lack of care that almost comes from the failure... What I think it stems from is really a failure to understand and see the significance in these questions. What does it matter if I have a relationship with God? Or what does it matter if there really is a God? Or what does it matter if Christianity is true? So let's talk about that a little bit. And before we enter into this conversation, let me just define some terms so that we can all get on the same page, because I think a lot of what we're going to say is going to revolve around understanding some things that we say and we don't wan to lose anyone. So let's ust define two terms. And I wan to define the terms objective and subjective. I think most o us know what subjective m ans already, right? That means t's like a matter of opinion or it's like my personal tas es, something is grounded in ike the way I think about someth ng. So for instance, my prefer nce for white chocolate over ark chocolate is...

Chandler Jackson:

Is stupid and misguided...

Josh Arruda:

No, no, no, no.

Chandler Jackson:

Dark chocolate is objectively better than...

Josh Arruda:

That's not true. But that's the point, right? That would be an example of something that is subjective, it's founded and it's grounded in my personal taste. Objective, on the other hand, is something that's actually grounded in reality, and is independent of what anybody thinks about it. So for example, the fact that this microphone is objectively in front of my face means that it doesn't matter what I think about it, it really is there. Or it doesn't matter what Chandler thinks about it, the microphone is really sitting here. So those are the two terms that I just wanted to clarify before we actually get into the meat of this. And here's why I wanted to clarify that because I'm going to make a bold statement about everything that we've just been alluding to, that we're going to flesh out and sort of talk about for the rest of the podcast. And here it is. I think, and this is not just my opinion, but I think it's the consensus of a lot of people who think about the significance of God and Christianity and the role that eternal life and all of this stuff plays. And this is the statement, if there is no God, and there is no eternal life, meaning Life Beyond the Grave that's extended indefinitely into the future, then life itself has no objective, meaning, value, or purpose. And when I say that, I mean, not subjective, not like what I think my purpose is, or what Chandler thinks his purpose is, or what he thinks gives meaning to his life, or what he thinks is valuable. But life itself has no objective, meaning, value, or purpose. And this is actually a fact that's not just recognized by people like me, or Christians, or people who believe in God, but also atheists. Nietzsche, who was alive in the mid to late 1800s, let me just read you a quote he wrote, that basically affirms what I just said, he said, "You have your way, and I have my way, as for the right way, or the correct way, or the only way, it does not exist." So here, Nietzsche, he was a famous atheist, he didn't believe in God. And here he is affirming sort of the same thing I'm saying that there is no objective meaning, value, or purpose. There is only subjective meaning, value, and purpose. And let me just define those terms for you. Because we're going to talk about this and see why that's significant statement. But before we do, let me just define each of those things meaning, value, and purpose. So meaning has to do with why something matters or its importance. So for me, if I do something in the world, if I say that it's meaningful, or that it has significance, what I'm saying is that what I did is really important. Value has to do with something's moral worth. So most of us who are human beings recognize that other people have value, other people have this intrinsic moral worth. And that's why we value them and we protect them and we protect that value in people and we want to do everything that we can to affirm that. So value has to do with something's moral worth and then purpose has to do with a goal or a reason for something. So for instance, last week on the podcast, we talked about a washing machine. A washing machine has a purpose. It's been designed and created for something in particular. And so there's an objective purpose for a washing machine, which is to wash clothes, right? And so that's what we mean by those three things. Meaning has to do with importance, value has to do with moral worth, or significance, and purpose has to do with a goal or a reason why something exists or was created.

Chandler Jackson:

And so let's take some time, and really flesh out those three things meaning, value, and purpose in context of Josh's previous statement, his statement about if, if God does not exist, and there's no eternal life, then life itself has no objective meaning, value, purpose, okay? So let's break that down. So we're gonna start with meaning. Remember, meaning is why something matters, why it's important. And so without eternal life, your life has no objective significance, and makes no difference to the world's ultimate outcome. And without God, there's no big picture, in which man's life can be seen to matter. And so those two things are very bleak statements. But it's true, right? As human beings, we spend a whole ton of time, striving to be better as humanity. We want to be better, we want to progress towards a goal as a society, and we just want the quality of life and the meaning of life to be better than it was yesterday. And without God or eternal life, it's all ultimately a wash in the end. It doesn't really matter, what we achieved, or what we deemed as better or what goals we reached as people. Because as far as everything goes, it all just ends in death. No matter what we did, no matter what thing we decided was meaningful. And we worked and progressed towards it all just ends in death. It all washes out the same, in fact, this is what science tells us. Science tells us that, that everything in the universe is heading towards a cold, dark death. And it's on a constant path towards that. Eventually everything in the universe is going to end in death.

Josh Arruda:

Destruction. Yeah,

Chandler Jackson:

Yeah. And so we can try to make up some sort of significance without God or without eternal life, but then the meaning is no longer objective. Remember our definitions of objective and subjective--we can try to make up something, but at that point, we're just just pretending. We're just pretending as if there's some sort of meaning, but there's actually not any meaning at all. And something that you think is significant and worthy of pursuing is completely different from what someone else may deem significant and worthy of pursuing. It's all subjective at that point. To be a little bit controversial--I'm not going to make any statements about it--But let's think about the election. If you think that it's better to have voted for Donald Trump and that's what you think we as a country should have done. Or if you think that it's better that we should have voted for Joe Biden and and his his camp and their policies. Ultimately, without God or eternal life, it really doesn't matter what happened in this election cycle. It doesn't matter if society moves more towards progressivism and more towards conservatism. It doesn't matter at all. It all just washes out the end. It doesn't doesn't matter about any of those things.

Josh Arruda:

Yeah, what you're really saying is that the significance and the importance of the decisions that we make, the wind is taken out of our sails, if we remove God and eternal life from the picture because ultimately, no matter what it is that we decided to do, whether we thought it was significant, and really made a difference, or really changed the world in some capacity. In reality, if we take God and eternal life out of the picture, it didn't. And this is really directly related, I think, to the next thing we could talk about which is value--which has to do with moral worth and moral significance. Again, if you take God out of the picture, moral values are not objective. Right, but they're just sort of behaviours and ideas that are ingrained into us by evolution and social conditioning. Without God, the fact that a human being has intrinsic moral value is really just arbitrary, right? It's just something we decide, or it's just something that we picked. It's really, maybe it's just because we happen to be human beings. Or maybe we think we have a more complex nervous system than the rest of creatures and so we just say, yeah, that's why we have value or something like that. But in reality, there is no real moral value or duty if we take God out of the picture. We're just sort of left with this evolutionary byproduct or social conditioning. It's really just people or society's opinions. Without there being some sort of ultimate good or some sort of derivative where we get this value from, our only frame of reference is personal taste. It'd be no different than my love of white chocolate and Chandler's love of dark chocolate. We have no other reference outside of our own personal taste. And this isn't just something that Christians think this isn't something that people who believe in God think this is something that atheists, I think, think themselves. There's a philosopher named Michael Ruse, he is a philosopher at Florida State University. He's an atheist, and I want to read you a quote about his assessment about morality, because this is a very mainstream view, in atheistic philosophy. So let me just read to you what he says. Michael Ruse says, "Morality is a biological adaptation no less than our hands and feet and teeth. Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate that when somebody says love thy neighbor as thyself, they think they are referring above and beyond themselves. Nevertheless, such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction and any deeper meaning is illusory." And so I think what he says is exactly right, if we take God, and we take eternal life out of the picture, morality, moral values, moral duties are really reduced to exactly what Michel Ruse says. It's just an evolutionary adaptation, with no real foundation in reality. And any sort of real significance that we think we're giving to it is really just our own subjectivity. And one society might think something else and Chandler might think something and I might think something. And so we're sort of left and lost on objective moral value. But there's something else, I think, to add too. Because even if we could, somehow, without God, say that we have sort of this objective moral value and this objective duty--without eternal life, there's no ultimate moral accountability. So exactly as you were just saying, if life just ends at the grave, and there is no God, and there is no eternal life, but there are these objective moral values and duties we have, it doesn't really matter whether or not you ascribe to them, because there's ultimately no accountability. A Mother Teresa ends up exactly the same, and in the same, in the same repercussions as a Hitler or Stalin. Without God, there is no ultimate justice, there is no moral accountability. And so you can see the effect and the significant role that God plays when it comes to our moral values and our moral duties and our moral accountability. If we take God out of the picture, all of that stuff crumbles into nonsense. But if God's there, then it really does fit in line with what I think we intuitively know, which is that people really do have value. The decisions we make when it comes to morality really do matter. That's why we are so passionate about picking a leader for America, and having a leader in America who is doing what we think and see as the right moral thing to do. So yeah, again, God plays a significant role when it comes to our moral values. And our duties.

Chandler Jackson:

Yeah. And so the last of the three was purpose. And so purpose, again, is a goal or reason for something. And, again, putting it in the context of what Josh said earlier--without eternal life, the only end is extinction in death. We've already established a little bit in the previous two. The only end is extinction and death. That's the only end of everything. And then without God, there's no objective purpose for which you came into this world. So now we're getting personal with it. It's no longer just about, you know, your meaning or your value, we're talking about the reason you exist here on this earth. And so why you exist at all, the story still ends up being the same, right? Without God, or eternal life, your purpose just becomes subjective. It's just whatever you happen to fancy at the time. You can, again, pretend that you have some sort of purpose and just sort of make up one. Maybe you decide for yourself that my purpose in life is to be a good husband, or good wife, or a good father, a good mother, or maybe you decide my purpose in life is to cure cancer. And that's your life's pursuit. And that's your purpose. And you believe that there's this noble call behind your life for this purpose. But the reality is, it's all subjective, without God or eternal life. It really wouldn't matter if you had chosen a different purpose for your life. If you had never decided to cure cancer, and decided to go towards a different purpose in your life. Again, it all washes out in the end, it all ends in the same conclusion.

Josh Arruda:

Yeah. And honestly, I think this is a big one, I think, because one of the biggest factors, I think, for people who find themselves struggling with depression, or lots of anxiety, or, you know, struggle mentally with things about their life--is a really a huge lack of a sense of purpose. And this is a heavy consequence of something like removing God out of the picture of reality, because exactly what you said, you're exactly right, if we take away a purpose-giver, we are left without a true purpose, only ones that we can conjure up for ourselves.

Chandler Jackson:

Right. So to clarify that idea a little bit, because it may get hazy in some people's mind, when they think about this, they may think, okay, then I do have a purpose. You know, it's my purpose to be a good father, or something like that. To clarify what he just said about the purpose-giver, let's just do a thought exercise. Imagine you were walking in the woods one day, and you came across a mysterious object that you've never seen before. And so you take the mysterious object, and you have no clue what the purpose of it is. And so you decide to keep it and you assign for yourself your own purposes for it. Maybe you take the object and you use it as a piece of art, you put it up in your house, and it's something interesting for people to look at or use it as a paperweight. Or maybe you use it as like a crude tool or something like that. Whatever you decide, it's up to your discretion, whatever you want to do with it. So you essentially have subjectively given that object a purpose. But, let's imagine you meet the person who owns that object, or who created that object and they show you exactly what the purpose of that object was--why it was created. Just because you assigned a subjective purpose to that object when you had it, doesn't mean that object was really made for that purpose. So like Josh said, if you take the Creator, or you take the purpose-giver out of the picture, then all you're left with is whatever someone decides to use this object for. It's all subjective.

Josh Arruda:

And that really is the thrust of everything that we're saying. There's really been two factors that have come into play in everything that we've said--both God and eternal life--which just so happened to fit very well in the Christian story. The whole Christian story is one of God creating us to have a relationship with Him and providing an avenue for us in Jesus Christ, to spend eternity with Him. And so God and eternal life really fulfill all of the criteria for giving life true and objective meaning and value and purpose. And if we take God and eternal life out of the picture, we're really left with this deeply disturbingly, empty and vapid life where we are lost in relativism, just trying to determine what we think our life should look like. And other people having different ideas and there not being any true path or true direction or true purpose or meaning or morality, or any of that stuff. And I think all of this just really emphasizes the importance of taking our questions and pursuits about God very seriously. Understanding what's on the line here if we take God and eternal life out of the picture. I mean, we're sacrificing all of the stuff that we just talked about, and were hurled into a lack of purpose, which I think is not only incorrect, it's not only false, but it's also very dangerous, because everything in us, I think, knows that we were made for true meaning and true value and true purpose. And there's a struggle for those of us who who struggle with questions about God or feel like they don't really matter or don't see any significance in them. The struggle is that we're living in that tension of trying to recognize all of these things without recognizing what grounds all of that stuff. And that really can, I think, be damaging to our mental health. And so yeah, if you find yourself struggling with that stuff, really consider this. I think we should understand that, that even if it's not true, God plays a significant role in our understanding of the most important parts of life. Whether we realize it or not, all of us live like meaning and value and purpose are real things. And so the decisions that we make, and the things that we pursue, we act as if those things really matter, as if those things really have significance in the world. And that only makes sense with God at the center.

Chandler Jackson:

Otherwise, you're just being disingenuous.

Josh Arruda:

Yeah, you're just being inconsistent, or you're trying to deal with the significant despair and repercussions that comes about if you really want to reject that. I think that's exactly what Nietzsche did. I don't know if any of you know Nietzsche and his struggle, but he basically grew up a Christian became skeptical, became a hardcore atheist, and then spent most of the rest of his life trying to figure out how to have meaning and significance and value without God. And he was one of the most honest atheists, I think, that have ever lived, because he would blatantly admit that if we give up God and we kill God, or we proclaim the death of God, then we're proclaiming the death of all of these things that are significant. And he spent a big majority of his life trying to determine how he could live a significant and meaningful life without God, eventually, he went insane, and died.

Chandler Jackson:

At least he was consistent.

Josh Arruda:

But he was consistent. So all of this to say, if you're feeling apathetic about the question of God, or maybe you're on the fence, asking yourself why any of this even really matters, or why it's significant for you to even think about? The answer is because life literally crumbles into absurdity without Him. And now, that's not any sort of proof that there really is such a person as God or that Christianity is true, but it should be the motivation that we need, I think, to shake us up our apathy towards questions like this, and really get us thinking about these things and taking these questions seriously, because there's a lot at stake. There's a lot on the line. Okay, so...I feel like it that sounded a little depressing. But the the non-depressing version of this is that we are convinced and are fully advocating that God really does exist, and that you really do have meaning value and purpose. And so yeah, don't misunderstand what we're saying. We're just emphasizing the importance of that question. So if you want to follow up on some of this. Maybe in the future, let us know in the comments. So we can talk about these things. And in more detail, especially maybe morality or anything like that. If you want to listen to some past podcasts that we've recorded, you can check those out on the church center app or on Facebook, or on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, any of the streaming platforms. Thanks, guys so much for listening, and we'll see you next time.

Colton Key:

For more information about Crossway Church, download the Church Center app, or visit us online at crosswaychurch.com